Open Burning Allowed on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays in Unincorporated Lake County through Dec. 31, 2020
By Fire Chief Jon Cokefair
October 14, 2020

Open Burning Allowed on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays in Unincorporated Lake County through Dec. 31, 2020
The Lake County Board voted yesterday to amend a temporary emergency ordinance that is effective through Dec. 31, 2020, which allows open burning in unincorporated Lake County from sunrise to sunset only on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays and further accommodates landscape maintenance on larger properties on all days of the week.
Prior to this spring, open burning was allowed every day in unincorporated Lake County. However, on May 12, the Lake County Board voted to temporarily ban open burning due to COVID-19. In August, the Board then voted to approve burning on limited days. Yesterday’s action by the Board extended the ordinance that was set to expire, and made a few adjustments in recognition of the fall leaf season.
Important aspects of the temporary ordinance to be aware of are:
1. Open burning is allowed on all properties in the unincorporated areas from sunrise to sunset only on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. NEW: The ordinance also allows open burning from sunrise to sunset on any day of the week if the burning occurs at least 500 feet from the nearest habitable structure.
2. NEW: The temporary emergency ordinance will now expire on December 31, 2020.
3. Per Section 307.5 of the 2012 International Fire Code, all fires must be attended and there must be an extinguishing device immediately available, such as a hose with running water.
4. Recreational fires that are no larger than 3’ x 3’ x 3’ used for warming, cooking, and other recreational purposes and do not contain specified landscape waste (non-woody materials) are still permitted on all days of the week.
5. Burning garbage, refuse, or construction materials remains prohibited.
6. Not adhering to the emergency ordinance can result in a violation. To report an open burning violation occurring in the unincorporated area, please call the Lake County Open Burning Hotline at 847-377-2999. Please have the address, specific location or Property Index Number (PIN), if available, of the property where the violation is occurring so that Lake County may follow up on the complaint in a time-efficient manner.
"The temporary ordinance is essential as exposure to smoke from open burning can increase serious health consequences during the COVID-19 pandemic in both people who have existing respiratory conditions and those who don’t," said Bill Durkin, Chair of the Lake County Board's Public Works, Planning and Transportation Committee. "People can still enjoy small campfires on all days of the week and have ample days to care for their property."
Some unincorporated areas are also subject to their local fire protection district's open burning restrictions. Residents should contact their fire district for more details on applicable regulations. Residents can see who their fire protection district is and if they reside in a village/city or unincorporated Lake County by searching their address using the County's Maps Online tool.
The Lake County Energy and Environment (E&E) Committee has held a series of discussions on permanent open burning restrictions in the unincorporated areas over the past year. It is anticipated that public information meetings will be scheduled in early 2021 to inform residents of options moving forward and to receive feedback. More information will be announced at a later date.
Lake County reminds residents that there are possible alternatives to burning yard waste that can benefit areas surrounding homes.
"Residents are encouraged to keep their neighbors in mind as they do yard work around their home this fall," said Lake County Board Chair Sandy Hart. "Consider alternative options to burning such as mulching and composting, and contact your township or waste hauler to see if they offer a yard waste pick-up service in your area."
For more information on the open burning modifications and alternatives to burning yard waste in unincorporated Lake County, please visit
Arin Thrower
Chief Communications Officer