Spare the Air Alert: Cold weather, increase in wood burning prompts extension

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (BCN) – The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has extended a Winter Spare the Air alert through Tuesday, meaning there is a ban on burning wood, manufactured fire logs or any other solid fuel, both indoors and outdoors.

The alert is the second of the winter season, prompted by predicted colder overnight temperatures and light winds that could lead to deteriorating air quality due to smoke from increased wood burning.

The air district said that a forecast high-pressure system over Northern California “will act like a lid, trapping smoke at ground level,” while offshore winds could also allow Central Valley air pollution to drift into the Bay Area.

“On Monday, smoke from residential wood burning is expected to cause unhealthy air throughout the Bay Area,” said Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Air District. “During this holiday season, when respiratory health is a priority for us all, it is critical that everyone does their part to improve air quality and protect public health by not burning wood.”

It’s illegal for residents and businesses in the region to use their fireplaces, wood stoves, pellet stoves, outdoor fire pits or any other wood-burning devices during a Spare the Air Alert for fine particle pollution. Exemptions are available for homes without permanently installed heating, where wood stoves or fireplaces are the only source of heat.

Anyone whose sole source of heat is a wood-burning device must use an EPA-certified or pellet-fueled device registered with the air district to qualify for an exemption. An open-hearth fireplace no longer qualifies for an exemption.

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