Fire it up: The dos and don'ts of beach bonfires


Walton County is the only local area where you can legally start a bonfire on the beach. Permits can be acquired through South Walton Fire District. For more information, visit

Steve Kirby | Special to The Sun
Published: Thursday, March 20, 2014 at 05:50 PM.

With the sometimes cold spring temps, many beachgoers would rather sit by a fire than head into the water. Luckily, in Walton County you can legally have your bonfire and enjoy it too.

Those wanting to enjoy a crackling fire on Destin beaches aren't so fortunate since beach bonfires are illegal according to an Okaloosa County ordinance. Beach bonfires aren't permitted in Santa Rosa County either.

Before you grab the graham crackers and marshmallows, there are a few simple bonfire rules to follow for the safety of your guests and fellow patrons on the beach, explained Sammy Sanchez, Fire Marshal at South Walton Fire District.


1. Get your permit — First step in planning your bonfire party is obtaining a permit from the South Walton Fire District, located at 911 N. County Highway 393. There are two types of permits. Beach-front property owners can obtain a yearly permit at no cost. For non-owners, permits are $50 for a 24-hour period. Bonfires are only allowed on public accesses, otherwise you have to get written permission from the property owner before getting your permit. The person obtaining the permit must be 18-years-old and present during the hours at the bonfire. Rainchecks and refunds are not available, even in the event of inclement weather.


2.  Set up — There are a few things to consider when setting up your bonfire. First is your materials. Bonfires must not consist of pressure treated lumber, tar paper, rubber products, creosote treated lumber, glue impregnated material, plastic, foam or household trash. Use paper and matches rather than a lighter/gasoline to ignite your fire. The bonfire must be in a metal container, such as a galvanized tub, fire pit or burn barrel no larger than four-feet in diameter. Also, pay close attention to your location. Bonfires should be 100-feet away from habitable structures, 200-feet away from sea turtle nests and 50-feet away from vehicles, public roads and plants and vegetation.

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