Debris Disposal Alternatives
Keeping our yards fire safe means that we need to dispose of the combustible debris
that comes from trees, brush and other natural sources. Conifer needles, leaves, twigs,
limbs and pieces of dead brush tend to accumulate faster than we'd prefer, and they all
need to be removed. The safest and most environmentally friendly means of disposal
is by hauling the debris to a local cogeneration plant or by chipping the material and using
it as mulch.
State law also permits residents to dispose of small quantities of natural yard debris by
burning it during certain times of the year. These allowable burn periods are announced
by local fire officials, who will also identify related burning restrictions such as allowable
times of day, etc. Air quality issues also come into play, and burning may only occur on
permissive burn days. Always check with the Fire Chief regarding current information on
burn restrictions, and with AQMD regarding permissive burn days, BEFORE you light a
Basic Burning Restrictions
WHEN burning is allowed, there are some fundamental restrictions that ALWAYS apply,
- Burn barrels are prohibited throughout Plumas County.
- Fires may only be lit on permissive burn days; call AQMD at 258-2588 to verify.
- Only natural debris may be burned. You may NOT burn garbage, plastics, tires,
oily substances, tar paper, construction debris, etc.
- Only a small (4 ft. by 4 ft.) pile may be burning at a time; you can add to that pile
as it burns down.
- Fires must be attended by a responsible adult at all times, and proper tools and
water must be immediately available on site.
- Fires should only be lit when winds will not cause a problem.
- Before leaving the fire, it must be COMPLETELY extinguished.
Remember that if your fire escapes and causes damage, you can be held personally
responsible for the damages.
Small accumulations of natural debris that result from ordinary residential yard cleanup
activity require a burn permit during parts of the year (often from the 1st of May to the
end of allowable burning in late June). These permits are issued free of charge by the
local fire department during normal business hours.
Large accumulations of debris from lot clearing, timber cutting or non-residential activity
require a specific (commercial) burn permit issued by the Northern Sierra Air Quality
Management District in Quincy; a fee is charged for such permits.
Smoke is the result of incomplete combustion of the material being burned. In the case of
natural yard debris, a fire that continues to produce heavy smoke after being ignited typically
means that the material is too green, too wet, too compressed or contains too much dirt to
burn properly. When such smoke stays near the ground and drifts around the neighborhood
it creates a public nuisance and a health hazard.
Both Plumas County and the Northern Sierra AQMD have regulations in place requiring that
residential burning be conducted in a manner that produces the minimum amount of smoke.
This means that all debris must be DRY (a minimum of 30 days of drying time for light
materials, even longer for heavy branches). The burn pile must also be kept loose and free
of dirt so that air can circulate freely to promote a hot fire and complete combustion. Trying
to burn greet, damp or compacted debris will only produce clouds of dense smoke.
County regulations require that "Burning shall be curtailed when smoke is drifting into a nearby
populated area or creating a public nuisance." If your burning creates continued heavy smoke
that wanders through the neighborhood, you need to put the fire out. Otherwise, your fellow
residents have every right to complain to the Quincy AQMD office (at 283-4654) and you could
end up being cited.
Remember, you can minimize smoke by:
- Burning throughly DRY materials
- Keeping the pile SMALL and LOOSE.