Help with smoke entering my home

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Help with smoke entering my home

Postby kkav » Sun Mar 20, 2011 7:28 pm

Looking for guidance, advice, suggestions! The person living next door to me has erected a ten foot in diameter round fire pit with 18" sidewalls and is lighting fires in it every weekend. The problem is that it is closer to my home than his, but more than 10 feet from property line. He is burning leaves and brush from the woods along with regular firewood. The firepit sits under tall trees that form a canopy, the smoke is thus forced toward my house regardless of the wind direction. There is no other direction for the smoke to escape. With my windows closed the smoke penetrates my house particularly my master bedroom, laundry room and kitchen smell like a campfire every weekend. I obviously could NEVER open my windows or much of my furniture and window coverings, bed coverings and clothes in my closets would be ruined. I also have three children and am very worried about the possible health impact this could potentially have.

I have alerted the person living next door of what was occurring and they don't care. He will not move the structure (he said it took to long to build), and will not obviously stop burning. I have called the fire department on one occasion and they said that as long as his flames did not come above the 18" side wall there was nothing they could do. There are no ordinances on smoke entering a nearby residence. I find this unbelievable, but can not find anything on record to the contrary. I am desperate for some help....anyone have any suggestions? It has become so terrible that if I can't find a way to put a stop to it, we will have no choice but to move. Thanks!

P.S. I live in NJ
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Re: Help with smoke entering my home

Postby Smokelessinvancouver » Wed Mar 23, 2011 7:23 pm

First of all NJ is New Jersey? Have you called your local health authorities? contacted a lawyer? called the fire department? called your local politicians?

Do you have any support from neighbours? Are you using hep filters inside your house?
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Re: Help with smoke entering my home

Postby Shirleyb28 » Wed Mar 23, 2011 8:39 pm

It sounds to me that you will not be able to convince him to stop. He doesn't care what his smoke is doing to you.
Yes, it is a health hazard that needs to be ended. There is no sense in continuing to try and change his mind.
You might try calling the nearest large newspaper and ask them if they would do a 'personal interest story' about how residential burning has affected your life. Newspapers love this kind of thing and it might embarass him enough that it will stop.
If not, I think the fastest way would be to have a lawyer send him a letter threatening legal action if the smoke does not end. This letter won't be that expensive and it doesn't mean that you have to follow through with legal action... but, stand your ground with him and let him think you mean business.

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Re: Help with smoke entering my home

Postby Tomfirth » Wed Mar 23, 2011 8:51 pm

Sorry to hear about your plight. You have every reason to be concerned about you and your children; wood smoke contains many carcinogenic substances and toxic compounds. It is CRIMINAL that your neighbor can so freely compromise you and your loved one's health. The first reply indicates your limited choices. Put pressure on your local politicians and try writing an opinion in the local paper. But be prepared for rancor and vitriol. Wood burners can be a brutish, uncivilized bunch. Lawyers are costly. Here is a facebook page that deals with wood smoke. Maybe you can find some support there.

The EPA mandated that all states must reduce particulate pollution. In my state, CA, we have a local Air quality board that works hard to educate and lessen the wood burning in the area. Is there an Air Quality Board in in your state?

Here is my facebook page. I am dedicated to ending the wood smoke scourge.
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Re: Help with smoke entering my home

Postby dianeT » Thu Mar 24, 2011 4:52 am

I have a problem with smoke seeping into my home from a neighbors wood burning stove.
1. Talk to your neighbor, this is important, whoever you call will ask if you talked to your neighbor. This is really a waste of time, wood burners don't give a shit that they are harming their neighbor, but call.
2. Now you can start make phone calls, write letters to everyone from local officials to the Governor.
3. Take pictures of the smoke & what he is burning.
Most neighbors will not want to get involved, talk to them anyway, invite them into your yard when he is burning.
If you don't have any local ordinances in place, You should call the DEP, outdoor wood burning is regulated in NJ. There is a hotline number online. Call your local code enforcer. If your in north jersey there are ordinances in some township regarding the use of outdoor wood burning.
Please call contact me, I'm in Jackson Twp. Jackson doesn't not have any regulations regarding any type of smoke except leaf burning.
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Re: Help with smoke entering my home

Postby Shirleyb28 » Thu Mar 24, 2011 8:27 am

Posted for Julie Mellum as she had trouble doing it:

To the person in New Jersey whose property rights are being violated by wood smoke:

Please contact me. I encourage you to join the Wood Smoke Activist Network. We have a monthly newsletter with lots of good ideas for fighting wood smoke. It is especially important for you to connect with others, and we have a representative from New Jersey, Diane Thompson, who you should talk with. Her email is (I believe the spelling is as you see it, rather than “optionline”. I can get you signed up upon request and also give you some direct suggestions from my personal experience and that of others we work with.

Julie Mellum

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Re: Help with smoke entering my home

Postby bodhi2600 » Thu Mar 24, 2011 4:47 pm

your handle on this situation will probably be a city or county nuisance code.
if you rent your home, ask the landlord to correct the problem. if you own your home,
contact a lawyer immediately and consult with him/her about this. if there is a nuisance code
have the lawyer write a strong letter to the offender concerning the problem. hopefully it will be enough to stop it.
before going to the lawyer, be sure that the next time there is smoke in your house, you invite friends over. ask them to comment on the the comments with a camcorder and also film the smoke and fire. do this as often as it happens.
use this material to present to the lawyer.

i wish you best of luck.

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Re: Help with smoke entering my home

Postby kkav » Thu Mar 24, 2011 7:43 pm

Thanks to all. Great advice and many ideas I haven't thank you. What I have done so far is found an ordinance on line for another NJ town (similar community to where I live). I've given it to one of our township committee members and he said he would present to the rest and get back to me. I have also spoke to the local fire department to ask for their support in recommending a smoke ordinance to the current open fire code that is in place. They think it is a good idea and offered me their help. I have video documented what is happening and will continue to video until I get some results....hopefully that will be solid evidence to anyone what is going on here. The neighbor is burning leaves and I have photos of his 10 foot diameter firepit loaded with leaves prior to his burn. I have video of the burn with five foot flames over the top of the pit and I have video of after I call 911 and he hears the sirens coming down the road. He proceeds to throw dirt on the flames and whips out a bag of marshmallows and has his kids gather around this monsterous firepit. When the firemen arrive the image is a dad and his kids making smores. It's a game he's playing....mocking me and fooling the fire department (which is volunteer!). I'm hoping for a positive turnout, however, I will not stop until I get one. I will follow all of your wonderful advice until someone hears me and agrees that MY rights are being violated ---- not his!

P.S. We have tried to talk to the neighbor, the husband and the wife separately....not happening. He's not interested and she isn't getting involved. This has been going on for almost a year.
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