Open Burning Laws

We get asked this question a lot:

What are the rules for open burning in Bartholomew County?

Open Burning Regulations in Bartholomew County

Open burning is regulated at the state level by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) and at the local level by county ordinances.  The local government abides by all of the state regulations, but can choose to be more strict.  Individual subdivisions and homeowner's associations may have additional rules.  We will address the state and local government regulations, but you are responsible for knowing the specific requirements for your neighborhood.

Smoke and other contaminants produced by burning can have negative health and environmental effects on our community.  Many modern household products are made with materials that can produce toxic gases when burned.  We recommend that you always seek an alternative disposal method instead of burning.

The #1 thing to remember when burning outside is that it must be done safely.  The #2 thing to remember is that it must not cause a problem for someone else.  If you are lawfully burning natural wood in your backyard, but the smoke drifts into your neighbor's home through an open window and they complain, you must stop burning immediately.

"Any fire which becomes an air pollution problem, a public nuisance or a fire hazard shall be immediately extinguished." -County Code 91.38

What am I allowed to burn?

Natural organic products:

  • Clean, untreated wood
  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Yard waste
What am I NOT allowed to burn?

Any non-natural (man-made) materials:

  • Treated wood
  • Household trash
  • Plastic
  • Rubber
  • Liquids (gasoline, oil, etc)
  • Batteries
When can I burn?

With the exception of campfires, bonfires, and cooking fires, burning must be during daylight hours only.  By sunset the fire must be extinguished.  Fires must be attended at all times until extinguished.  If a fire is still smoldering, it has not been properly extinguished.  Do not burn in unfavorable weather conditions such as high winds or ozone action days.

Where can I burn?

You must be at least 25 feet away from all structures unless the fire is specifically for cooking.  This includes the house, garage, shed, doghouse, playset, etc.  Do not burn on any public road, street, or alley.  Open burning is not allowed in mobile home parks, apartment complexes, or condominium complexes.  The burning material must be in a noncombustible and ventilated container, not on the ground.

Bonfires and Controlled Agricultural Burns

Planning a bonfire or controlled agricultural burn on your property?  Be sure to notify the Bartholomew County Emergency Operations Center (EOC).  That quick phone call will be much more enjoyable than us having to come out and pay you an unexpected visit.  Bonfires are permitted to burn after dark as long as they are kept to a reasonable size, only natural untreated wood is burned, and adequate firefighting equipment is kept nearby.  We often get called out to fires that a neighbor sees across a field and mistakes it for a possible house fire, so it is always best to notify the EOC before burning.  Remember that any controlled burn must be attended at all times.

BARTHOLOMEW COUNTY EOC (non-emergency): 812-379-1689

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