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Liability of prescribed fire in CA

These resources are for viewer information only and viewers should seek legal advice for interpretation of laws prior to prescribed fire planning or ignition.

1)      Public Resource Code 4422: No fire can escape your control.


“A person shall not do any of the following:

(a) Willfully or knowingly allow fire to burn uncontrolled on land which he owns or controls, or to escape to the lands of any person other than that of the owner.

(b) Allow any fire kindled or attended by him to escape from his control or to spread to the land of any person other than from the land from which the fire originated.”


2)      Public Resource Code 4494: Permit does not relieve due diligence.


“The issuance of a permit by the department does not relieve the holder of the permit from the duty of exercising due diligence to avoid damage to property of others in conducting the burning of vegetation as authorized by the permit.”


3)      Health and Safety Code 13008: Liable if not exercising due diligence.


“Existing law provides that a person who allows a fire upon his or her property to escape to the public or private property of another, without exercising due diligence to control the fire, is liable to the owner of the property for the damages to the property caused by the fire… Any person who allows any fire burning upon his property to escape to the property of another, whether privately or publicly owned, without exercising due diligence to control such fire, is liable to the owner of such property for the damages to the property caused by the fire.”


4)      SB-1260 (4): SB 1260, Jackson. Fire prevention and protection: prescribed burns.


“This bill would provide that compliance with the provisions of law relating to prescribed burning-operation agreements with the director or with a permit authorizing the private burning of lands under specified circumstances shall constitute prima facie evidence of due diligence with respect to the above provision relating to fire liability.”


5)      The Northern California Prescribed Fire Council provides a summary of CA Liability Laws from 2014. NCPFC Smoke Regulation & Liability Laws


6)      Publication Summarizing States and Associated Liability: http://sofew.cfr.msstate.edu/papers/0519sun.pdf