Setting a couch on fire in the street has been a Chico tradition for many years. The practice is caused by the fact that at the end of school year, when many rental leases are up, there is a surplus of unwanted furniture with no good way to get rid of it. This event usually occurs at night and usually in the predominantly student neighborhoods. The sight of a burning couch tends to draw attention, often with many spectators. Spectators are often drunk, and a scene that involved a burning couch was the starting points of the 2008 student riots.


The practice has become a lightning rod for criticism by those who do not approve of the partiers or the party culture in Chico. Heat from such a fire can cause severe damage to the road surface which must be repaired. Furthermore, chemically, burning a couch is hazardous for health as burning plastics will emit toxins into the air.