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Posted on: December 13, 2021

Smoke visible from Willard Springs green waste burn

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Coconino County Public Works, in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), will ignite the annual green waste burn at the Willard Springs Green Waste Station, located 17 miles south of Flagstaff at Exit 326 on the west side of Interstate 17 (I-17), by Tuesday, December 14, 2021 The Willard Springs green waste burn is expected to produce smoke during the ignition period, which will last approximately three weeks. Based on wind and weather conditions, smoke may be heavy at times and visible to motorists on I-17. The Coconino National Forest will post signage on I-17 to notify motorists about smoke and to drive with caution.

The burn is necessary to reduce the existing stockpile of pine needles, tree trimmings, and other green waste at Willard Springs Station before the 2022 fire season. 20,000 cubic yards of green and woody waste has been collected since April 2021, almost double the amount of waste the station normally receives in a year. Green waste burn is expected to smolder until the middle of January, depending on weather conditions. The burn will be monitored by the Mormon Lake Ranger Station, Pinewood Fire Department, and the Coconino County Public Works Solid Waste Division. Public Works Solid Waste Division will be regularly stirring the green waste piles throughout the process to promote a homogenous, even burn that will help to minimize smoke.

When smoke levels are high, the appropriate protective measures should be followed:

•           Avoid breathing smoke. Reduce or avoid outdoor activities.

•           Make sure heating units have a clean filter in the air intakes. Devices with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters can reduce indoor pollution.

•           Use the recycle or re-circulate mode on the heater in your home or car.

•           Avoid activities which can increase indoor pollutants such as cooking and vacuuming.

Additional information regarding the health effect of smoke from prescribed burns and wildfires is available online. Contact Ron Hollamon, Coconino County Public Works Solid Waste Manager at (928) 679-8300 for additional information on the green waste burn. 

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