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Posted on: October 1, 2020

Safe Ash Clean-Up During and After a Fire


Cleaning up the ash and leaves from our backyards, landscapes, yards, and streets will eventually help clean our air and our community, but it must be done safely. Smoke and ash can be harmful to your health and the health of those around you. The greatest risk is from fine particles that are not visible. The information below is for residents and those who are cleaning up ash, not those cleaning up burned structures. If you lost your home or business to the fire, you need to take additional precautions. See links below for other resources.

When you determine it is safe to clean up, PROTECT YOURSELF and the ENVIRONMENT remember these three C’s: CONTROL – CONTAIN – CAPTURE


Avoid cleaning up ash until air quality conditions improve and it’s safe to be outdoors. Decisions about when to clean should be based on the level of fine particles and the air. Check your local air quality information at Today’s Air Quality. 

Inhaled ash may be irritating to the nose, throat, and lungs. Choose a mask with two straps and make sure it fits snugly around your nose and chin. Surgical masks, bandanas, and other paper masks do not protect your lungs from the fine particles that are of greatest concern.


Try to control the amount of ash particles that get re-suspended into the air.


Use appropriate cleaning methods for the task at hand.


Ash has a high pH and, in large amounts, can be harmful for people, the environment and aquatic life.

 If washing roof areas, redirect downspouts to landscaped areas.

  • Ash will not hurt plants or grass but will hurt the storm drains when the water reaches the creeks.


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