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Burning illegally in Farmington? Expect a bill

Farmington-area residents who conduct open burns without the proper permit can expect to get a bill in the mail if the Farmington Fire Department gets involved.

The city has already sent out half a dozen invoices related to illegal open burns since the city council updated its permit fee structure in January, and fire chief Jim Larsen said he has more to get to.

Residents can expect the bills to cover city costs if they do not have a valid permit, let the fire burn unattended or do not have a fire extinguisher handy while they burn.

“We’re finding people are burning construction debris,” Larsen said. “That’s illegal.”

The fee structure does not cover recreational fires such as backyard bonfires, which do not require a permit.

Improperly-conducted open burns can cause significant challenges for firefighters. One recent unpermitted burn sparked a brush fire that burned 20 acres south of Farmington. Larsen said the department sent out every vehicle it had for that fire. Police and paramedics also responded, as did firefighters from nearby departments and two helicopters from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Those helicopters cost $10,000 per hour to launch, Larsen said.

“(Costs) will be significant when you have multiple air resources coming to our fire like we did,” Larsen said.

Larsen expects the number of unpermitted burns to increase now that the DNR has lifted its statewide burning ban. Anyone with questions about what fires are allowed or how to get a permit for an open burn can find information on the city’s website at

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

(651) 460-6606