Big Sky Fire District Burning Information

Open Burning

Open Burning is allowed with a permit between March 1st and November 30th, unless there is a burn restriction in place. Burn Permits for Gallatin and Madison counties may be purchased online using a debit/credit card or an electronic check (eCheck) at

There are some avenues in which people can occasionally burn during the winter under other authorities. These include:

  • Individuals conducting work under a Hazard Reduction Agreement with DNRC
  • Burning Projects operating under DEQ’s Winter Burning Regulations
  • Projects operating as a large burner such as the US Forest Service.                                                                                                          

Recreation and Heating Fires

Small recreational fires that are 36 inches in diameter or less in controlled areas and construction heating devices do not require permits, HOWEVER, people burning in this manner are still responsible for the fires and must follow the requirements listed below.


Montana Code Annotated

  • MCA 7-33-2205 & 2206 deal with the fire seasons and permit requirements. Violations under those codes are a misdemeanor with fines possible up to $500 and/or 6 months in jail.
  • If a person burns in a manner that is unsafe, damages property belonging to another, or places anyone in danger of injury or death, the Arson laws apply. Negligent arson, MCA 45-6-102, can be either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances. Misdemeanor charges can cost up to $500 and/or up to 6 months in jail. Felony charges can cost up to $50,000 and/or up to 10 years in prison.
  • Open burning may be conducted between March 1 and November 30. You will be liable for all fire suppression costs and damage resulting from any escaped or uncontrollable fire. MCA 50-63-103
  • In all cases, restitution can be ordered separately from the criminal fine. Restitution may include but is not limited to paying damages to other property owners and paying for the firefighting resources.
  • A permit holder may delegate duties to a designated responsible person; however, the permit holder is ultimately responsible for violations.

 Permit holders are required to activate their permit each time they burn either online at or by calling the county’s automated phone system at 1-888-540-8131.  An interactive map is also available to allow citizens and county personnel to view all current burn activity within the county.

  1. Notice of Burn: Each permit holder or designee must activate their permit on each day that burning is anticipated.
  2. Preparation for Fires: Before a fire is set, the permit holder or designee shall ensure that adequate fire suppression equipment and personnel are present for fire control during the duration of the burn.
  3. Safe Conditions: No fire shall be set if wind or other weather conditions make it hazardous to burn. If wind or other conditions change making a fire hazardous, the fire must be extinguished as quickly as possible.
    • Where there is high fire danger, because winds or other conditions make burning hazardous, or if fire suppression equipment and resources are not available, permits may be temporarily suspended until safe conditions exist and to allow assignment of burn priorities (if others request permission to burn at the same time).
    • Rural fire chiefs may close their Fire Service Area or Fire District to open burning, when necessary.
    • Permit holders or designees shall extinguish a fire if requested by the Sheriff, a rural fire chief, or other designee.
  4. Daylight Hours Only: No fire shall be set between sunset and sunrise. If it appears that a fire will continue to burn after sunset, the permit holder or designee must notify the Open Burning Number at 406-548-0144.
  5. Control of Fire: The permit holder or designee shall not leave the immediate fire area until the fire has completely burned out, that is, with no embers, smoke or heat remaining.

REMEMBER: If it’s Too Hot to Touch, It’s Too Hot to Leave

What responsibilities am I assuming when I light my burn?

  1. Fires shall not be ignited when weather, wind and other conditions make it hazardous to do so.
  2. You must have enough water, hand tools/equipment, and people to keep your fire under control.
  3. If you do not activate your permit before burning, the Fire Department may be dispatched to your fire even though it is under control, and you will be cited.
  4. Burn permit must be accessible at the burn location.
  5. Someone must remain with the fire until it is completely out. (No smoke or hot embers present)
  6. Permission to burn may be revoked at any anytime, due to weather conditions.

Additional Information About Safe Burning in Gallatin and Madison County

What can I legally burn?

  1. Natural vegetation is the ONLY thing that your burn permit allows you to burn.
  2. You are not allowed to burn prohibited materials as outlined in the Montana Department of Environmental Quality’s air quality regulations found at ARM 17.8.604. Some of these items are listed below:

The following materials are PROHIBITED for any open burning by Montana ARM 17.8.604:

  • Any waste which is moved from the premises where it was generated
  • Food wastes
  • Animal droppings
  • Treated lumber
  • Styrofoam
  • Plastics
  • Dead animals or animal parts
  • Pathogenic wastes
  • Hazardous wastes
  • Materials resulting from salvage operations
  • Automobile or aircraft bodies and interiors
  • Wood and wood byproducts that have been coated, painted, stained, treated, or contaminated by a foreign material
  • Oil and petroleum products
  • Standing or demolished structures containing prohibited material
  • Wastes generating noxious odors
  • Insulated wire
  • Poultry litter
  • Tires
  • Rubber materials
  • Tar paper
  • Chemicals
  • Asphalt shingles
  • Asbestos or asbestos-containing material
  • Trade wastes
  • Christmas tree waste
  • Paint
Burn barrels: Burn barrels are a metal barrel of less than 60 gallons with a screen covering the top, at least 10 feet from all flammable material. No material may be burned in a burn barrel that is prohibited under state law. [SEE LIST ABOVE]
If the Big Sky Fire Department is dispatched to a burn that is suspicious in nature or meets the following, law enforcement will be asked to investigate and request prosecution, as applicable:

  • Out of control
  • Has moved to someone else’s property
  • Burning illegal substances, or
  • The person burning does not have a permit

On Red Flag Warning days, all burning is prohibited within the Big Sky area.