News

String of 'Spare the Air' days continues

Friday to mark 26th wood-burning ban of season as dry, stagnant weather lingers in Bay Area

The Bay Area is experiencing a winter with some of the worst air quality in years as a fourth consecutive "Winter Spare the Air" day was announced for Friday (Jan. 3).

Friday will be the 26th day this season that an alert has been issued by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, which is banning wood burning in the region because of poor air quality.

A dry, stagnant weather pattern with little wind continues to linger in the Bay Area and does not appear to be leaving any time soon, air district officials said.

"Unfortunately, weather conditions that allow smoke to build up and cause public health impacts have not changed," Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the air district, said in a statement.

During a Spare the Air day, residents and businesses cannot use fireplaces, wood-stoves, outdoor fire pits or any other wood-burning devices indoors or outdoors.

Homes in which stoves or fireplaces are the only source of heat are exempt from the ban.

Violators are subject to a $100 fine or the option to take a class on wood smoke awareness. Violators face a $500 fine or higher for subsequent offenses.

Wood smoke has fine particles and other pollutants that make the air harmful to breathe and cause air pollution, according to the district.

Children, the elderly and those with respiratory conditions are most susceptible to the effects of poor air quality, district officials said.

This winter has seen the worst air quality since 2006, primarily due to the dry weather, air district spokesman Aaron Richardson said.

There were 30 "Winter Spare the Air" days for the entire winter season in 2006-07.

"We are threatening our record for (alerts). And we're only halfway through the season," Richardson said.

The winter season started Nov. 1 and runs until Feb. 28.

More information about the daily burn status is available online or by calling (877) 4-NO-BURN.

— Bay City News Service

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