Complaints from residents about smoke and odors from outdoor burning increase with the arrival of spring.
Outdoor fires are responsible for putting numerous pollutants into our air, which irritate the respiratory system and may cause harm to human health. Exposure to very small smoke and soot particles are especially harmful to pregnant women, young children, the elderly and people with existing heart and respiratory illnesses.
To protect air quality, Spokane Clean Air staff enforce outdoor burning rules and respond to reports of illegal burning, including on weekends in the spring when outdoor burning tends to spike. To report illegal outdoor burning, contact Spokane Clean Air, 477-4727, or use the online complaint form.
Outdoor fires may be temporarily restricted during periods of poor air quality or fire danger. Residents are encouraged to subscribe
to a free e-mail service for burn bans issued in Spokane County.
There are two distinct categories of outdoor burning, each with specific requirements per state law:
- Recreational fires are allowed throughout Spokane County (unless prohibited by local homeowners' associations or rental agreements, etc.) Recreational fires cannot be used for disposal purposes, may not exceed 2 foot high by 3 foot across, and must be located at least 25' from combustibles (fence, deck, house, outbuildings, etc.) Only natural gas, propane, charcoal or seasoned firewood may fuel a recreational fire. Review additional information at www.spokanecleanair.org/burning.
- Disposal fires can be either "Residential Yard and Garden Debris" or "Silvicultural Debris" as described below. It is important to know the difference:
Residential Yard and Garden Debris is natural vegetation (leaves, needles, tree and shrub prunings) generated on the IMPROVED portion of residential property. Since 2009, burning this debris has not been an option in most areas of Spokane County. The exception is for those residing in Fire Districts 2, 5, 11 and 12. These districts administer programs for this type of outdoor burning.
consists of trees, brush, stumps, limbs, needles, etc., generated on UNIMPROVED
residential property. Unimproved property is the area beyond your improved property, such as lands that are not irrigated, mowed or otherwise maintained, including timbered pastures, brush lands, and forests. If you have debris from your unimproved residential property and it is located outside of an urban growth area
, you may be eligible to burn this material. Silvicultural debris burning falls under the jurisdiction of the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. Contact DNR for details: http://www.dnr.wa.gov/OutdoorBurning
or call their office in Colville at (509) 685-6900.
Residents able to burn natural vegetation are encouraged to use non-burning, healthier options for handling this debris. Options include:
- Hauling debris to your nearest transfer station.
- Chipping the material and use as mulch.
- Composting the material to incorporate in and around your yard and garden. Spokane County Master Recyclers/Composters conduct trainings throughout the year. Their next training will be the Compost Fair at Finch Arboretum on Arbor Day, Saturday, April 28.