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Wood Smoke and Burn Bans | Spokane County, WA
Wood Smoke and Burn Bans

Wood Smoke

Wood smoke is a major contributor to air pollution
in Spokane County.  People with heart and lung problems can be threatened by wood smoke because it contains very tiny particles of soot that can penetrate deeply into the lungs.  Replace older-style wood stoves built before 1990 with new cleaner-burning devices.  The newer, certified devices were built since 1990, and are designed to burn cleanly.  Even these cleaner burning devices must still be operated properly.  Rebates and other incentives may be available through retailers in the county.  http://spokanecleanair.org 

Burn Information

Burn only clean, dry, seasoned wood
and keep smoke emissions to a minimum by giving the fire plenty of air to prevent it from smoldering.  Only untreated wood may be burned.  Garbage, paper, painted wood and other objects are illegal to burn.  

Burn bans are called when weather conditions are not expected to improve, largely during days when high pressure traps cold air near the ground in what is known as a temperature inversion.
  • A “green alert” means there are no restrictions on the proper use of wood-burning devices.  

  • A “yellow alert” means that only EPA-certified devices may be used.  Wood burning is prohibited in non-certified stoves (manufactured before 1990) and fireplaces in the county’s smoke control zone.

  • A “red alert” means that the burning ban applies to all wood-burning devices.   Households with no other source of adequate heat can request an exemption to burn during a ban, but must meet chimney limits. 

  • NOTE:  Washington passed a law in 2016 that allows wood stoves or other solid-fuel-burning devices that meet Department of Ecology emissions standards to be used, even during a burn ban, during emergency power outages.  Wood stoves are the only source of heat for some people. 
People who allow too much smoke to go out of chimneys or stove pipes are contacted at their front door by an inspector who has the authority to issue citations with fines of up to $600.  

To determine when open fires are prohibited, or burning has been banned,
call (509) 477-4710, or 1-800-323-BURN, or  
visit http://spokanecleanair.org and click on “burning conditions” at the top of the page.  

What You Can Do

    •    Burning Wood.   If you have a wood-burning fireplace, be extremely careful when disposing of warm ashes.  

    •    Have your fireplace and furnace checked and cleaned regularly. 

    •    Never leave a fire unattended—even a cigarette. 

    •    Keep matches, lighters and lighter fluids out of the reach of children.

Additional Resources
For the latest air quality reports, go to these websites:

Spokane County Air Pollution Control Authority (SCAPCA). 
Call before burning. 
Call for air quality information
(509) 477-6828