Cherokee County Fire
& Emergency Services

Burn Ban Begins on May 1st

April 21, 2021

The Summer Open Burn Ban runs from May 1 - September 30 and includes 54 counties in Georgia. During the summer months, the ozone in the air we breathe can reach unhealthy levels.  The open burning ban prohibits citizens and businesses from burning yard and land-clearing debris during this period. This is in addition to the rule that prohibits the burning of household garbage. Burning household garbage is never allowed anywhere in Georgia.

According to Cherokee County Fire Investigator, Cheri Collett, “We have had 6 incidents of “Illegal Burns,” and 24 incidents of “Brush/Grass/Vegetation Fires” since January 1st of this year.”

The combination of relative low humidity and dry fuel can make high fire danger conditions.  These are the conditions we have been experiencing lately in Cherokee County.  These conditions have led to several fires causing major damage in our area including house fires.  To keep yourself and property safe here are some guidelines to remember. 

Residential burning requires a permit from the Georgia Forestry Commission. 

Burn season ends after April 30th and runs until October 1st, 2021.

During burn season, a burn permit must be obtained via the Georgia Forestry Commission website. Proceed to the Permit Request Form and obtain a Burn Permit. If you are unable to access the internet, you can call the Georgia Forestry Commission at 877-652-2876 (877-ok2-burn).

After you review the information below and you have questions regarding outdoor burning, please contact the Fire Marshal’s Office by phone at 678-493-6290 or by email at firemarshal@cherokeega.com during normal office hours.

If you have a complaint or problem regarding burning in your area, please call 911 when the burning is occurring. A fire engine will visit the location and if needed extinguish the fire.

Rules for Residential Burning: (www.cherokeecountyfire.com)

OPEN BURNING ON PRIVATELY OWNED, RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY DURING OPEN BURN SEASON
Homeowners or residents of single-family residential property are authorized to have open fires provided all of the following requirements are met.

  1. All burning operations shall comply with the "Rules for Air Quality Control" chapter 391-3-1 as written and amended by the Environmental Protection Division and these standards.
  2. The fire(s) must be on the property occupied by the person receiving the permit and the natural vegetation must be from that property and may not be hauled in from another property.
  3. Only natural vegetation can be destroyed by burning. "Natural vegetation" includes sticks, tree parts six inches and less in diameter, grass, pine straw, hedge trimmings, etc. Burning of poison oak, poison ivy, and any other vegetation which produces severe respiratory damage is not allowed. Burning of cardboard, treated wood, materials containing petroleum products, i.e., tires, plastics, wire insulation, roofing shingles, etc., is not allowed.
  4. No vegetation pile shall be larger than six feet in diameter by two feet in height.
  5. No more than two burning piles are allowed at any one time.
  6. There shall be a minimum of ten feet between piles.
  7. No burning is allowed within 50 feet of a structure.
  8. No burning is allowed within 25 feet of a wooded area, pine island, or other lightweight class A fuel.
  9. No fire shall be within 25 feet of the adjacent property line.
  10. No burning is allowed on windy days (10 mph or higher) or on days when the atmospheric conditions (cloudy, overcast, or raining) would cause the smoke to remain low to the ground.
  11. All open fires shall be constantly attended by a competent person 16 years of age or older to monitor and control such burning. A rake, shovel, or similar hand tool, and charged water hose that will reach to the most remote point of the burnt material is to be operated and on-site before the fire starts.
  12. Fires may not be started with petroleum-based products.
  13. Burning of garbage is prohibited. Garbage is any waste material that includes but is not limited to plastic products, Styrofoam, fiberglass, recycling wire (burned to access metal), tires, clothing, furniture, mattresses, boxes, papers, stumps, root balls, and kudzu vines.
  14. Failure to comply with these rules which results in an uncontrolled fire or a valid complaint by the nearby property owner(s) or resident that requires the response of the county fire and emergency services will result in the fire being extinguished immediately.
  15. Fires will be authorized between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and to be completely extinguished one hour before sunset (no smoldering or hot coals remaining).
  16. Even if all guidelines for burning are followed, you may be required to extinguish the fire if it adversely interferes with another’s enjoyment of life, use of property, or if someone with a health problem is affected. Fire officials may prohibit burning at times when atmospheric conditions or local circumstances make burning hazardous.

Residential burn permits shall be acquired on a daily basis and are subject to weather restrictions. Residential burn permits are issued for hand piled natural vegetation only and cannot include construction debris, tires, plastics, and other man-made material. The issuing of these permits is dependent on the location within the county where you would like to burn.

  • If the residential burn location is located in Unincorporated Cherokee County or within the city limits of Nelson, or Waleska a burn permit must be obtained via the Georgia Forestry Commission website. Proceed to the Permit Request Form and obtain a Burn Permit. If you are unable to access the internet, you can call the Georgia Forestry Commission at 877-652-2876 (877-ok2-burn).

Please note the following city-specific information:

For information on residential open burning within the city limits of Ball Ground, Canton or Woodstock, please see below:

Types of Fires Allowed All Year 

Certain types of fires are allowed all year, even during the burn ban, as listed below.

Recreational Fires

  • Recreational fire means an outdoor fire in which only logs or clean wood are being burned and has a total fuel area of 3 feet or less in diameter and 2 feet or less in height for pleasure, religious ceremonial, cooking, warmth or similar purposes, and which is not used to dispose of garbage or yard waste.
  • Recreational fires are allowed between the hours of 8:00 AM. and 10:30 PM.
  • No recreational burning is allowed on windy days (10 mph or higher) or on days when the atmospheric conditions (cloudy, overcast, or raining) would cause the smoke to remain low to the ground.
  • Recreational fires must be attended by an adult who must be watching the fire at all times. Never leave the fire unattended.
  • A water hose or fire extinguisher must be on hand that can reach the fire, and can be ready to use if needed.
  • Recreational fires must be at least 25 feet from all structures.
  • Recreational fires shall not be started with petroleum-based products.

Bonfires

  • An outdoor fire larger than a recreational fire in which only logs or clean wood are being burned for ceremonial purposes.
  • A bonfire permit is required to be issued by the Cherokee County Fire Marshal’s Office. Please call 678-493-6290 to request an inspection and obtain a bonfire permit at least 5-7 business days prior to the desired date.
  • Bonfires must be 50’ from structures, 100’ from property lines, and completely out by 10:30 p.m.

Types of Fires Exempt from Burn Regulations

  • Fires burned for the purpose of cooking food for immediate human consumption, e.g., barbecue grill or pit.
  • Fires in an outdoor fireplace, chimenea, fire bowl, or other similar device burning logs or clean wood only.

REMEMBER, Burn Season ends after April 30th and citizens will not be able to do any outdoor burning until October 1st.

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The Burn Ban in Cherokee County will begin on May 1st.
The Burn Ban in Cherokee County will begin on May 1st. (click image for slideshow)
The burn ban also prohibits the burning on household garbage.
The burn ban also prohibits the burning on household garbage.
The burn ban runs from May 1st - September 30th.
The burn ban runs from May 1st - September 30th.