News Release, Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshal

STATEWIDE, September 18, 2019 –  The Office of the State Fire Marshal has seen numerous burn injuries as a result of open-air burning this month. State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci would like to remind residents about the necessary steps to reduce their risk of injury while conducting an open-air burn.

“Burning a large pile of brush is not the same as having a small campfire,” said State Fire Marshal Geraci. “The scale of these fires means an increased chance of unintentional spread and flashback, which can cause injury or death. It is paramount that Marylanders who intend to conduct a burn follow the rules and regulations established by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.” 

When burning brush and other natural debris, you must ensure the following:

  • There is a natural or constructed fire break at least 10 feet wide around the material to be burned that is free of flammable materials. 
  • Adequate personnel and equipment are present to prevent the fire from escaping, including access to water and a shovel with dirt or sand nearby. 
  • At least one responsible person remains at the location of the fire until the last spark is out.
  • The burn follows all local requirements and regulations according to their county, city, and/or homeowner’s association. 
  • Burning occurs between the hours of 4:00 p.m. and 12 midnight, except when the ground is covered with snow. If there is snow-covered ground, the burning may occur at any time so long as all other requirements are met.
Graphic courtesy of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources

You should never use an accelerant, such as lighter fluid, gasoline, or diesel fuel, to facilitate a fire. The use of these accelerants will dramatically increase your chance of injury. It also important to wet the ground surrounding the fire, do not burn on windy days or in dry weather, and do not burn near trees, buildings, or other flammable sources. Remember, items such as household trash, tires, roofing material, and treated lumber may not be burned in an open fire.

For more information about open-air fire safety visit

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...