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It is NOT OK to build a fire on the sand. It is NOT OK to burn trash especially toxic plastics. It is NOT OK to leave your trash everywhere.


illegal Fires or What is that Black Stuff? 

In nearly every photo displayed here, the coals were still burning when the illegal beach fire was discovered the next day posing a tremendous risk to humans and animals.


It’s good, safe family fun’ until it is not, which is why bonfires out of enclosed pits are banned on beaches in San Diego. 


At one time (2013) Mission Beach had 186  fire pits which cost about $173,000 taxpayer dollars. 


illegal fires are those that are directly on the sand and without a designated fire pit, or the burning of trash instead of approved wood.


Currently there are about 25 active fire pits 30 legal fire pits in South Mission Beach. At any one time in a one mile stretch of oceanfront beach in South Mission beach there are at least 14 illegal fires in South Mission Beach 


The Issues are many:

  1. Health- Fire needs fuel and what goes into a fire-pit, plastic, scooters, glass, food wrappers, aluminum, beach chairs and umbrellas shoes, clothing, bottle caps, plastic cups and even last year a person was put not a lit fireplace. If if burns they will put into a fire. 

  2. People bring scrap wood loaded with nails and toxic paint to burn in the illegal fire pits. The nails are left behind. 

  3. Safety The majority of these fires involve drinking and beach trash. Some people may cover up their evidence, still burning coals, which continue to burn for up to 24 hours.

  4. If buried, the burnt wood (which you now see all over the beach) comes up again and or washes out to sea, harming both humans and animals. Much of the wood has nails in it. Most of these fires include glass liquor bottles, which get broken and are strewn all over the beach. Add in the metal spits and it is a recipe to anyone to get hurt.

  5. If the fire can be seen still burning, the Park and Recreation Department has to call an up-loader to pick it up with a dump truck (taxpayer dollars) to dispose of the coals and trash, that goes into a landfill to continue to burn and off-gassing or they have to call the Fire Department to put out the fire. 

  6. Environmental- Toxic charcoal and lighter fluid kills animals 

  7. 90% of the Fire pits leave lighter fluid behind leaking toxic fluid into the beach. 

  8. Food- many of these fires are for roasting marshmallows. The spits, the marshmallows, chocolate are all left behind. 98% of the illegal fires have trash and 90% involve drinking. 

  9. Buried and lit fires should not be cleaned up by Sand Cleaning Machines

  10. Underage drinking 

  11. Loud parties until early morning hours often times with people sleeping it off at the fire pits. 


Not So fun Fact 

  • Open burning of trash can increase the risk of heart disease; aggravate respiratory ailments, such as asthma and emphysema; and cause rashes, nausea or headaches.

  • beach fires could be hazardous not just for beach goers, but also for those who live nearby. The study found that the levels of fine particulates around fire pits and in nearby communities exceeded EPA guidelines for short-term exposure. In one night, a single beach fire can emit the same amount of harmful particulate matter as a heavy-duty truck driving 564 miles, the study found.

  • Children are being treated for second and third degree burns from falling into fire pits or stepping on smoldering embers buried in the sand 


Its The Law 


  1. It is a misdemeanor violation to build a fire on the sand or in any device other than a portable barbecue. The maximum penalty is $1,000 for each individual involved in the building or use of the illegal fire.

  2. The municipal code also prohibits:

  3. Leaving fires unattended; fires must be extinguished, cleaned up and fire debris deposited in a city-provided hot-coal container;

  4. The use of sand and/or dirt to extinguish fires;
  5. Unused wood, coal and other fire fuel being left at the fire pit;

  6. Use of city fire pits between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m. without a permit.
  7. Any fire including BBQ have to be over 700 feet to the nearest residence

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