A Deer Lake resident was fined $10,000 for illegally burning brush and slash on property he owns near Deer Lake, in Stevens County.
Neighbors of the property have repeatedly complained about smoke from the fires, and David Christie, the property owner, was previously fined $4,000 by the Washington Department of Ecology in 2018, also for illegally burning material without a permit.
The $10,000 penalty is for an incident in April 2020, when Ecology investigators responded to a complaint from neighbors and found a large pile of debris smoldering untended on the property.
“Burning isn’t illegal, but doing it in a way that threatens the health of your neighbors is,” said David Knight, manager of the Air Quality program for Ecology’s Eastern Region. “The reason we regulate outdoor burning is to make sure people are doing it safely and protecting the people who live nearby.”
Burning natural vegetation outside an urban growth area is legal in Stevens County, but only for piles smaller than 4 feet square by 3 feet high – and only when smoke does not become a nuisance to neighbors. Larger burns can also be conducted, but require a permit from Ecology’s Eastern Regional Office, which regulates air quality and burning in the county.
A notice describing the violation was delivered to Christie Oct. 15, 2020. The penalty may be appealed within 30 days to the Washington State Pollution Control Hearings Board.