Home » Protection » Fire & Burning

Fire & Burning

Outdoor Burning

Landowner burning yard debris
An astounding 98 percent of all wildfires are caused by humans, and about half of those wildfires are caused by escaped debris burns.

State law requires that citizens notify the Forestry Commission before burning outdoors. This requirement applies only to unincorporated areas of the state (outside of city/town limits). Citizens burning residential yard debris must 1) limit their fires to vegetative material like leaves, limbs and branches; 2) clear a firebreak around the burning site; 3) have the right equipment available to keep the fire under control; and 4) stay with the fire until it is completely safe.

There are three types of outdoor burns for which the Forestry Commission takes notifications:

  1. Residential yard debris burns
  2. Forestry, wildlife and agricultural burns (also known as prescribed, or controlled, burns)
  3. Construction-related/land-clearing burns

1. How to make notification for your residential yard debris burns

Onlinecoming soon!
On most days, citizens will be able to notify the Forestry Commission of their residential yard debris burns through our website when that functionality is fully available. This option will be limited to days when there are no Forestry Commission warnings or bans anywhere in the state.

By phone
Citizens can also make notification with the Forestry Commission for their residential yard debris burns by calling the toll-free number for the county in which they live. Find your county’s toll-free burn notification number here.

2. How to make notification for a prescribed burn

Prescribed burns are larger-scale burns intended specifically for agriculture, wildlife and/or forestry purposes. These purposes include burning for wildfire hazard reduction, brush control, endangered species management, wildlife habitat improvement, plant disease control, crop residue removal and site preparation for planting trees or agricultural crops. All burning for forestry, wildlife, and agriculture purposes must comply with South Carolina’s Smoke Management Guidelines (pdf).

Aerial of prescribed burn in longleaf stand
Prescribed fire crawls through a young pine stand.

Citizens planning to conduct a prescribed burn must call (800) 777-3473 and speak to a Forestry Commission dispatcher, who will walk them through the approval process. You will be asked to provide:

  • Name of person in charge of burn
  • Phone number of person in charge
  • CPFM number (if applicable) of person in charge
  • County in which burning is to be conducted
  • Specific location of your burn
  • Purpose of the burn
  • Acreage to be burned
  • Tons of available fuel per acre
  • Nearest smoke-sensitive area
  • Distance to smoke-sensitive area
  • The time you plan to start

3. How to make notification for a land clearing/construction burn

If adjacent to woods, brush or grassland, state law requires you notify the Forestry Commission before burning any vegetative materials from land clearing activity or right-of-way maintenance. Also included is any outdoor burning conducted for training purposes. The state notification law does not apply within town or city limits, but certain city ordinances may regulate the burning. 

All burning of this type must comply with DHEC Regulation 61-62.2. You should make sure you understand the requirements prior to calling for notification. Forestry Commission dispatchers are not authorized to interpret this regulation. If you need an explanation of Regulation 61-62.2, call the nearest office of the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control.

By phone
Citizens can make notification with the Forestry Commission for their land clearing/consturction burns by calling the toll-free number for the county in which the burn will take place. Find your county’s toll-free burn notification number here.

THINK Before You Burn Brochure (pdf)

THINK Before You Burn Brochure in Spanish (pdf)