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City neighbors can't burn noxious materials

I live in the city limits. The house behind me obviously uses a fireplace or wood stove for heating in the winter. There is continuous, thick, foul-smelling smoke coming out the chimney. Most times our eyes and throats burn from it. Are there any guidelines as to what this neighbor can burn? And if so, what are my rights to have some clean air in my corner of the valley?

— Debbie P., Medford

That doesn't sound too fun, Debbie.

You're in luck, though. Medford's municipal code section 7.242 concerns prohibited materials, which spells out exactly what your seemingly pesky neighbor cannot set ablaze.

They include garbage, treated wood, plastic, wire insulation, automobile parts, asphalt, petroleum products, petroleum-treated materials, rubber products, animal remains, paint, or animal or vegetable matter resulting from the handling, preparation, cooking or service of food or any other material which normally emits dense smoke or noxious orders.

Now, as to wanting your clean air back, Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau tells us any complaints should be directed to the police department's Code Enforcement Division at 541-774-2016. Burning the wrong thing can mean a $150 fine.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.