Air Officials Warn--Don't Throw Another Log on That Fire

Wood-burning devices are prohibited today AND tomorrow as cold temps and clear skies have prompted air quality officials to declare the season's fifth "Spare the Air Alert". Unlike last year, violators will not be give a second chance to

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District is issuing the season’s fifth Winter Spare the Air Alert for Thursday, January 17, which bans burning wood, manufactured fire logs or any other solid fuel, both indoors and outdoors for 24 hours. 

The alert has been called due to the ongoing high pressure system and cool temperatures that trap smoke pollution close to the ground. 

"Wood smoke is the other second hand smoke around our homes," said Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Air District.

"It is important to reduce this smoke around our homes and neighborhoods when weather conditions trap smoke near the ground." 

It is illegal for Bay Area residents and businesses to use their fireplaces, woodstoves and inserts, pellet stoves, outdoor fire pits, or any other wood-burning devices during a Winter Spare the Air Alert.

Many residents had mixed responses to whether or not they would report their neighbors for burning wood on a Spare the Air day. 

Homes without permanently installed heating, where woodstoves or fireplaces are the only source of heat, are exempt. 

Starting this winter, first-time violators will be given the option to take a wood smoke awareness class, online or by mail, to learn about the hazards of wood smoke pollution in lieu of paying a penalty. Second violations will result in a $500 ticket and subsequent ticket amounts will be higher. The public must check before they burn during the Winter Spare the Air season, which runs from November 1 through February 28. The daily burn status can be found: 

  • On the Air District Web sites: www.baaqmd.gov or www.sparetheair.org
  • Via the toll-free hotline 1-877-4-NO-BURN (complaints can also be filed via the hotline)
  • By signing up for AirAlerts at www.sparetheair.org or phone alerts at 1-800-430-1515
  • Via the Spare the Air iPhone and Android Apps

 In the winter, wood smoke from the 1.4 million fireplaces and wood stoves in the Bay Area is the single largest source of air pollution, contributing about one-third of the harmful fine particulate pollution in the air. Exposure to wood smoke—like cigarette smoke—has been linked to serious respiratory illnesses and even increased risk of heart attacks. Breathing fine particles accounts for more than 90 percent of premature deaths related to air pollution. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (www.baaqmd.gov) is the regional agency responsible for protecting air quality in the nine-county Bay Area. 

Beatrice Karnes January 17, 2013 at 07:09 AM
Thank you for the information. <Sigh> It used to be nice to do things just because they felt good without engaging the brain. Remember when we enjoyed life, rather than analyzed it?
Victor January 17, 2013 at 03:52 PM
This is just dumb! If I, or my own mother can't stay warm this winter then they can pay our heater bill from their own out of pocket exspense!
Janette January 18, 2013 at 01:04 AM
The "Air Officials" are lying through their teeth anyway. We met the clean air standards a couple of decades ago and the these insane agencies should be defunded and just go away. Keep your "warnings" to yourself CARB, this is still a free country and if we're cold we're going to build a fire and be comfortable. You, on the other hand, don't have the common sense to come in out of the rain or you wouldn't be "warning" people not to stay warm in the winter.


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