Are Bonfires in the Backyard, Legal?

Is It Legal to Have a Bonfire in Your Backyard? (Know The Rules)

A lot of people love bonfires in their backyard, and bonfires are fun. If you think of having a bonfire in your backyard, it’s a pretty good time to get started. But the problem is, fires are dangerous. So you might be asking, is it legal to have a bonfire in your backyard?

Yes, it is legal to have a bonfire in your backyard. But you have to follow some rules before firing a camp. Different countries and states might have different laws, and some places get extremely hot in the summer months. So as long as you follow the laws set out by most city councils, you should be free to have a bonfire in your backyard.

So now you know that bonfires are not illegal, but you need to follow the local laws. Now it’s time to learn about the rules, what you can burn and what you can’t. To learn more about bonfire rules and regulations, keep reading the article. I will make sure you will never need to face the lawsuit while enjoying a nice campfire.

In this post, you will discover more about the specifics and safety of backyard fires.

Materials That Are Harmful or Illegal to Burn for A Backyard Bonfire

For the best safety, you need to make sure that you don’t burn toxic stuff. Actually, the only thing you can burn without hesitation is wood. Almost everything else becomes unsafe in one way or another, but I will specify some stuff that you should really cut out of your selections. Let’s begin.


You might want to burn your sensitive documents or get rid of unnecessary papers in the house. But this is actually prohibited by the laws. Paper created a lot of smoke, and burning the ink used for printing is not good for the environment. If you want to maintain a safe and sound environment, do not burn the paper.


Cardboards are often made of paper, and they create massive smoke in the air. It could also result in a dangerous fire surge, so even you are not safe from using cardboards.


Furniture items made of particleboards use heavy adhesives. When you burn those furniture products and particleboards, those adhesives emit toxic gases in the air. That is harmful to the environment and your health. So, particleboards do not ensure safety at all.

Wooden Pallets

While you can use wood for burning, wooden pallets need to be avoided. Wooden pallets are built using a chemical called “Methyl Bromide”. If you burn the wooden pallets, that chemical gets released into the air, and no chemicals are safe for the environment.


Yes, the paper again. Magazines are printed using harmful inks that should not be burned. The fume released from burning inks can make it difficult for you to breathe. Also, some magazines can contain a plastic cover, and burning plastic is not safe for anyone.


Everyone knows that plastic is harmful to health. Plastic has a toxic chemical that is unsafe to burn. So, if you care about safety, ditch plastic from your selected burning items.

Poisonous Wood

Some plants contain poison in them. Burning those poisonous wood can create fumes in the air, and poison is not safe at all.


You cannot burn trash because it is illegal. Trash produces enormous smoke and releases toxic elements into the air. And as burning trash is not legal. You can’t justify that by burning non-toxic trash anyways. So, please stay away from it at all cost when searching for stuff to burn.

Painted Wood

Wood is good for burning, but paint is not. Painted wood is often processed using pressure, and pressurized wood is not good to burn. It often emits toxic smoke and is unsafe to burn.

Rules Regarding Lighting A Bonfire in Your Backyard

First of all, most cities allow small bonfires anywhere as long as it is not harming other people. So if you are burning a small amount of wood without hampering your neighbours, no one will complain about you. You should never create massive smoke that causes breathing problems and affects your neighbours.

Safety should be your first concern regarding bonfires. Ensure your fire is small and doesn’t create a mess that harms both you and your neighbourhood. Not all laws and regulations ensure pure safety, so use your common sense regarding safety precautions. However, you need to follow the rules stated below not to break the state laws.

Maintain Safe Distance

Your bonfire should maintain a safe distance from any materials that are prone to fire. The law says that the fire must not be in twenty-five feet of your house or vehicle.

No Fire Around Trees

Your fire should not be around any trees. If the branches of a tree hang over your fire, it can bring an accident out of nowhere.

Maintain distance from your neighbourhood

Your fire should maintain a distance of 10 feet from your neighbourhood. This may seem conflicting with the first rule, but that rule was for your house, and this is for the whole neighbourhood. So don’t get confused.

Check the wind condition.

Wind can be a threat to a bonfire, and it is dangerous to fire a camp while the wind is running fast. If the wind is running more than 15 miles per hour, you should not light a bonfire.

Make the fire shorter.

A taller fire is more dangerous to the neighbourhood and anything around the fire. Make sure your fire is not more than 3 feet tall. The same goes for the wide length. It would help if you kept it less than 3 feet.

Adult supervisions

Even if you follow all of the rules, you need to be an adult or have someone adult in your group while you are around a bonfire. This is a must, and you need to bring an adult with you for enjoying a bonfire.

Extinguish the fire  

When the night is over, take a spade, pat down, and layout the ashes to cool the area. Pour a bucket of water over the ashes gently, making sure no embers remain. Whatever happens, stay till the fire has been completely extinguished.

Taking Legal Action Against the Bonfire of Your Neighbour

If your neighbour is burning a bonfire and it’s causing harm or irritation, you might be thinking of taking some legal actions against them. Most of the people burning a bonfire do not know about the rules regarding bonfires. I don’t think they are making a bonfire to disturb you, so taking legal actions might not be a decent choice.

I would suggest talking with your neighbour about how it is hampering you. They are supposed to take some steps so that their bonfire does not bother you. In case they are not really caring about you, you should take legal steps against them. However, I don’t recommend going through the hard way first.

To take some legal actions against your neighbour, first, you need to keep a log of their work. No, I am not asking you to watch what they are doing. But you need to keep track of how often they are making a bonfire. If they are burning a bonfire often, the law will be stricter against them. You can even record a video or audio clip using your phone.

When you have enough evidence in your hand, ask the environmental health department of your area. Provide those evidence files, and they will issue a legal warning to your neighbour as soon as possible. Contact law authorities only when you are sure that your neighbours are not friendly towards you.


So, is it legal to have a bonfire in your backyard? I’m sure that by now, you’ve learned that technically it is legal as long as you are aware of the local rules and don’t burn anything that could be considered unlawful to burn. Stay away from the materials listed in this article, and always make sure that your neighbour’s bonfire isn’t causing difficulties. Before you blaze that bonfire, I suggest that you learn more about safety in this short clip.

And if you are the one who’s feeling disturbed by the neighbour’s bonfire, then try to talk and reason with them first before taking any legal action. Neutralizing the situation without taking such drastic measures is always the best path to take.

2 thoughts on “Are Bonfires in the Backyard, Legal?”

  1. Thank you for the interesting read. I was never aware that there are rules that regulate bonfires. I think like you said it differs based on locations . I grew up in a village so bonfires are a way of life, they are used to cook family meals on daily basis, but I guess this cannot apply in suburbs so the rules you outlined should then apply .

    • Thank you very much, Bogadi. Yeah, I’m sure some will ignore the laws and even get away with it, so if anything tragic happens and you’re not mindful of the laws, you might wind up in all sorts of trouble. But it’s still best to be on the safe side of the backyard to take into account the environment and neighbours.

      Many Thanks



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