Outdoor burning as a disposal method has been phased-out in most areas of our state for several years because of the harm that comes from being exposed to smoke. Smoke is comprised of many chemicals and fine particles that are harmful to everyone's health. Additionally, there are more widely available alternatives for handling natural vegetation other than burning.
Select a topic below for detailed information.
- Recreational Fires and Social Event Fires
- Residential Yard/Garden Debris burning and Alternatives
- Silvicultural Debris from Unimproved Property
- Land Clearing, other outdoor burning (storm/flood debris, noxious weeds, flag retirement, etc.)
- Agricultural burning
- Firefighting Instructional Fires
Temporary Burn Bans
- Air quality: When air pollution is increasing and expected to worsen, a temporary restriction on outdoor burning and indoor wood heating may be issued. The restrictions are to keep air pollution from exceeding the national, health-based standard.
- Fire hazard/Safety: Fire protection agencies and local officials may restrict outdoor burning during fire danger conditions, typically summer into fall.
When we issue burn restrictions (or another agency does and notifies us) we publicize this on our website (see blue box on right of our webpage) and on our Burn Ban Status Hotline: (509) 477-4710. We also email those who've subscribed to our "Burn Ban" email list. Subscribe here and we'll email you when burn restrictions are issued and lifted.
Burn Barrels and other Illegal Burning
Burning garbage is prohibited in Washington. The only material that may be burned legally in Washington (under specific guidelines and depending upon where you live) is unprocessed natural vegetation. In 2000, the state legislature banned burn barrels statewide. Therefore, even natural vegetation may not be burned in a burn barrel.
Smoke from burn barrels is noxious because the fires burn at low temperatures, receiving very little oxygen and producing excessive smoke and other toxic substances.
"Open burning of household waste in barrels is potentially one of the largest sources of airborne dioxin and furan emissions in the United States"- US EPA
Backyard fires that get out-of-control set off most of the wildfires caused by people. You can be held responsible for the cost of putting out your out-of-control fire and any property damage it caused, which can be very costly.
The Spokane-area has experienced its share of forest fires and wildfires. Fires threaten lives, property, destroy natural resources and wildfire smoke can affect everyone's health. Smoke is a complex mix of gasses and particles.
We monitor air quality and report current levels. If air pollution is approaching unhealthy levels, messages are relayed to the public via the news media, our website and social media channels.
Common recommendations include avoiding prolonged, heavy exertion outside. Those most prone to smoke include the elderly, young, pregnant, asthmatics and those with heart and lung diseases. These individuals should have an up-to-date plan in place with their health care team prior to wildfire season.
We partner with the Spokane Regional Health District who provides health-related information about smoke as well as home and emergency preparedness steps. Here are some resources: