Open Burning

Please complete this form to notify the District of your controlled burn.
For burns on the same day, call (815)338-2621 x4 after completing this form.
Burn ordinances and regulations for Woodstock, Wonder Lake, Bull Valley and Unincorporated McHenry County are listed below. 

City of Woodstock

4.11.1: PURPOSE:

The purpose of these regulations is to protect the public health, safety, and welfare of the city of Woodstock by regulating the open burning of materials within the corporate limits of the city. (Ord. 09-0-62, 10-6-2009)


CEREMONIAL FIRE OR BONFIRE: An outdoor fire, larger than three feet by three feet by three feet (3′ x 3′ x 3′), which is used for entertainment purposes as part of a specifically scheduled public or private event and, except as provided for herein, excludes the burning of leaves, grass, or shrubbery clippings or cuttings.

OPEN BURNING: The combustion of materials wherein products of the combustion are emitted into open air without passing through a stack or chimney from an enclosed chamber. For the purpose of this definition, a chamber shall be regarded as enclosed when during the time combustion occurs, only apertures, ducts, stacks, flues, chimneys or similar features necessary to provide combustion air and permit the escape of exhaust gas are open.

RECREATIONAL FIRE: A temporary outdoor fire, no larger than three feet by three feet by three feet (3′ x 3′ x 3′), for burning materials other than leaves, grass, shrubbery clippings or cuttings, or rubbish where the fuel being burned is fully contained in an outdoor fireplace or appliance designed for recreational burning purposes and used in the manner for which it was intended. (Ord. 09-0-62, 10-6-2009)


The open burning of materials for waste disposal or other purposes, including, but not limited to, material such as yard waste, landscape debris, construction materials and debris, garbage, trash, or household waste, paper goods, cardboard, wood, food waste, animal waste, furniture, clothing, mattresses, appliances, and similar items and/or material is prohibited. (Ord. 09-0-62, 10-6-2009)


A. A ceremonial fire or bonfire must be supervised by an individual at least eighteen (18) years of age or older who shall be present at all times until the fire is extinguished. It is the responsibility of the individual supervising a ceremonial fire or bonfire and the property owner to verify that requirements set forth in these regulations are complied with.

B. A garden hose or fire extinguisher or water source suitable for extinguishing the fire shall be available at the site of any ceremonial fire or bonfire, and such fire shall be extinguished when left unattended or abandoned.

C. A ceremonial fire or bonfire is required to have a permit issued by the McHenry County department of health and the Woodstock fire/rescue district must be notified no less than forty eight (48) hours prior to the start of such fire.

D. A recreational fire is permitted provided it is located at least fifteen feet (15′) from any building or structure.

E. Fire and smoke generated by a ceremonial fire or bonfire or recreational fire shall not cause or result in any unsafe condition.

F. A ceremonial fire or bonfire or recreational fire shall not comprise or result in a nuisance, as defined in chapter 1, “Nuisances”, of this title, for other property owners or residents. Pursuant to a signed complaint by the offended party, a citation may be issued for violation of the city’s nuisance regulations. (Ord. 09-0-62, 10-6-2009)


A. The restrictions set forth herein on open burning shall not apply to prescribed burns associated with ecologic restoration or natural landscape management, or burning of landscape waste for purposes of habitat reclamation, or burning associated with firefighter training.

B. The restrictions set forth herein on open burning shall not apply to burning in domestic fireplaces, cooking grills, or external fireplaces, or to self-contained outdoor wood burning devices or fireplaces used in accordance with manufacturer’s specifications, and when used in a manner so as not to create a nuisance as described in chapter 1, “Nuisances”, of this title. (Ord. 09-0-62, 10-6-2009)


A. These regulations shall be in addition to the current edition of the international fire code adopted by the city of Woodstock and the McHenry County open burning ordinance. Failure to comply with these regulations may be considered a violation of this code and of the McHenry County open burning ordinance.

B. Any enforcement officer of the city of Woodstock, Woodstock fire/rescue district, or McHenry County department of health is authorized to enforce these provisions. Complaints regarding violations of these regulations should be made to the Woodstock police department which will determine upon inspection whether a violation exists and if there is a need to involve the Woodstock fire/rescue district.

C. Any person, firm or corporation violating any of the provisions of this chapter shall be guilty of a petty offense and shall be deemed guilty of a separate offense for each and every day or portion thereof during which any violation is committed, and shall be subject to the fines and penalties set forth in section 1.4.1 of this code. If any person, firm, or corporation receiving a citation for violating any provision of this chapter fails to pay, settle or adjust the fine specified herein, then adjudication procedures may be initiated in accordance with title 1, chapter 7, article L of this code or with a court of competent jurisdiction, and such processes as necessary shall commence.

D. A written citation may be issued to the alleged violator by any of the methods specified herein. If the violator cannot be ascertained, then the citation may be sent to the record owner of the land on which the violation occurs. The citation shall describe the nature of the violation and the amount of the fine that must be paid.

E. If the person, firm or corporation cited for the violation has failed to pay, settle or adjust the fine, then such citation shall be filed in a court of competent jurisdiction and such process as necessary shall commence. (Ord. 09-0-62, 10-6-2009)

McHenry County (Outside City Limits)


  • Burning of manure, garbage, litter, etc. on any property in McHenry County

  • Burning of landscape waste within 100' of a habitable structure (i.e. residence, school, etc.)

  • Burning of landscape waste within 50' of a non-habitable structure (i.e. detached garage, barn, etc.)


  • Only landscape waste and only on the property where the landscape waste was generated

  • Only during the months of April, May, October and November (weekends only)

  • Only between dawn and dusk

  • Only when the winds are less than 10 mph

  • Must be supervised by an individual at least 18 years of age

  • A fire extinguisher, garden hose, or water source must be available by the burning site.


Burning of on-site generated landscape waste 500' or greater from a habitable structure is allowed:

1. During any month of the year
2. On any day of the week
3. At any time of the day

Note:  All other prohibitions/restrictions apply.


  • Recreational fires, not larger than 3'x3'x3', and excludes leaves, grass or shrubbery clippings

  • Ceremonial fires (bonfires) larger than 3'x3'x3', and excludes leaves, grass or shrubbery clippings; permit required from McHenry County Department of Health 

  • Habitat Reclamation or Firefighter


Any officer of the McHenry County Department of Health, law enforcement agency, fire department or fire protection district is authorized to enforce the provisions of this Ordinance.

Village of Bull Valley

Currently the Village of Bull Valley follows the McHenry County Burning Ordinance. Please reference the McHenry County Burning Ordinance on the menu to the right for any questions pertaining to open burning in the Village of Bull Valley.

Village of Wonder Lake

The combined Village and County ordinances impose the following restrictions on open burning of yard waste:

  • Burning of landscape waste is prohibited within 100 feet of a habitable structure or within50 feet of a structure that is not habitable. (garage, shed, barn, swimming pool, etc.)

  • Only on Saturdays between dawn and dusk in October and November, then again in April and May;

  • All open burning must be supervised by and individual at least 18 years of age until the fire is extinguished and a fire extinguisher or garden hose or water source must be available at the burning site;

  • Landscape waste is defined as grass clippings, shrubbery, cuttings, leaves, flowers, and weeds. Recreational fires, for warmth or cooking are allowed any day of the year with several restrictions:

    • The fire shall be no larger than 3 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet;

    • Shall be brush only ( no leaves, grass, shrubbery clippings, weeds or furniture);

    • Brush is defined as tree trunks, limbs, branches, and twigs.