Cleanup Guidance for Residents Affected by a Wildfire

In addition to loss of homes and animals due to wildfires, a wildfire can produce waste from smoke damage and ensuing floods. Following are tips on what to do during recovery efforts:

Spoiled Food:

Food waste decomposes quickly, can present a nuisance to public health and the environment, and attracts insects, rodents, and even bears and other large mammals. If it can’t be reused (such as items for livestock feeding and composting), food waste should be quickly bagged, containerized and disposed at an approved off-site facility.

Household Hazardous Waste:

Special care should be taken when managing household wastes that may pose a more significant threat to public health and the environment, such as paint, solvents, mercury containing devices, pesticides, drain cleaners, batteries and electronic waste. 

Disposal of non-liquid household hazardous waste in the curbside trash isn’t prohibited by law, but ADEQ prefers these items be recycled if possible. Chemical wastes from businesses are heavily regulated and the management of these materials should adhere to state and federal hazardous waste laws.

Construction and Demolition Debris:

Per Arizona law, concrete and metal used in the reinforcement of concrete are “inert materials” and are not regulated as wastes. Other types of inert, unregulated materials include hardened asphalt, brick, rock, gravel, sand and non-polluted soil. These materials can be stored and buried in a manner consistent with local ordinances and away from surface waters.

Other types of construction debris are regulated wastes and should be safely transported and disposed at an approved off-site facility, though untreated wood containing no lead-based paint may be burned via an open burning permit | Learn More About Open Burning >

Construction debris and ash from burned structures often contain asbestos and other microscopic particles that are hazardous to public health when inhaled | View Asbestos Fact Sheet > 

Appliances and Vehicles:

Metals are often a valuable recyclable commodity and recyclers may be willing to accept (and even pick up) recyclable scrap metal from property owners | Recycle Location Look-up >

Many metal recyclers may also be willing to pick up fire and flood-damaged vehicles. Titles will need to be signed over to a recycler, and Motor Vehicle Division salvage requirements apply.


Loss of pets and livestock can be especially distressing. Smaller animals that do not exceed 75 pounds in weight may be picked up by the regular waste collection service. For larger animals, the local waste disposal facility should be contacted to coordinate collection. If neither of these options is feasible, the local county health department can be contacted for guidance.

Additional Resources: 

Arizona Emergency Information Network | View >
Emergency Events Involving Asbestos |  View > 
Smoke &  Your Health | View >
Private Wells After a Fire | View >
Wildfire & Flood Risks | View >
Water Quality Concerns After a Wildfire | View >
USDA Forest Service: Active Fire Mapping Program | View >