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Prescribed Burns in Sonoma County

About Prescribed Burns

Prescribed fire is the use of fire under predetermined conditions to achieve specific objectives. It is an important tool in wildfire hazard reduction, ecosystem restoration, vegetation management, and wildlife habitat enhancement; it is also an important cultural resource, and it has application in forest management and rangeland improvement. 

Prescribed fire has unique effects on ecosystems, and most of those effects can't be achieved without fire. 

Fire as a Tool

In recent history, the majority of prescribed fires have been conducted by large resource agencies (e.g. Cal Fire and US Forest Service). But, in the last few years, driven in large by part by the efforts of UCCE Fire Advisors in Humboldt County, a new collaborative model of conducting safe prescribed fires has been introduced to California, the prescribed burn association (PBA).

Click here to learn more about the Sonoma County PBA, Good Fire Alliance, and other local county based PBA's.

Burning in Sonoma County

**UPDATE May 2020 - much of rural Sonoma County now also requires a permit from both Cal Fire AND your air district. Visit CalFire for details.

To conduct any outdoor burning (beyond fire pits) in Sonoma County, approval must be obtained from your local district of the California Air Resources Control Board (CARB). CARB establishes the framework for the burn program and local air districts implement and enforce local rules and regulations. 

A Smoke Management Plan (SMP) is required for prescribed burns. But the requirements for the SMP and steps for approval each CARB district differ. Best practices is to contact your local CARB district office early in the process.

During certain times of the year, burning of vegetation is allowed. Burn permits may be required. During the dry months, CAL FIRE will suspend burning altogether.

Always check with your local fire station or CAL FIRE station, as well as local air quality management agency before burning.

Regional Air Quality Board

Sonoma County has two CARB Districts, they have different procedures for obtaining approval for control and agriculture burns. 

Determine your ARB District by entering your address.

Once you know your district, learn steps to conduct prescribed burns:

Active Rx Fires

To learn where prescribed burns are occurring:

  • PFIRS - this site shows larger approved burns throughout CA.
  • PulsePoint for iOS and Android - shows all approved burns, including burn piles. Plus handy first aid information. 
    Highly recommend for EVERYONE. 

Additional Resources


Air Quality CA map

  • Prescribed Fire Information Reporting System an interface between air quality managers, land management agencies, and individuals that conduct prescribed burning in California. PFIRS enables individuals involved in prescribed burning the ability to view this information on a statewide level.
  • CARB Maps a variety of air quality maps available on the CARB site.
  • 7 Day Forecast by National Weather Service of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for Santa Rosa.
  • Purple Air air quality and particulate sensors along with include temperature and humidity where available.
  • Windy.com using Global Forecast System and NOAA Environmental Modeling System, shows the movement of wind world wide, zoom to your location.