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Thursday is the Bay's Fifth Spare the Air Day in a Row

Wood burning is banned unless it's the only source of heat for a home.

By Bay City News Service

For the fifth day in a row, Bay Area residents on Thursday will have to refrain from lighting up the fireplace or other wood burning sources during yet another Winter Spare the Air alert.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District today called its first ever fifth consecutive Winter Spare the Air Alert for the region due to an extremely cold, stagnant weather pattern, air district officials said.

The weather conditions trap wood smoke close to the ground, raising air pollution to unhealthy levels, according to the district.

Air district executive officer Jack Broadbent said wood smoke is "as hazardous as cigarette smoke and is the number one air-pollution-related health concern in the region."

Additionally, a fire that burned at a Concord warehouse for about 10 hours today and sent a plume of smoke and burnt plastic fumes across the East Bay further has further compromised the region's air quality, air district spokesman Tom Flannigan said.

"The good news is that people have been limiting their burning, but we still have the same weather conditions," the spokesman said.

Flannigan said a new weather system forecast to move through the Bay Area could mean no Winter Spare the Air alerts this weekend.

During Winter Spare the Air days, all wood burning is banned except in cases where wood burning is a household's only heat source, according to the district.

First-time violators have the option of taking a wood smoke awareness class or paying a $100 fine.

The air district's daily burn status can be found at www.baaqmd.gov or by calling (877) 4-NO-BURN. 

Copyright © 2013 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.

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Francine Timber December 12, 2013 at 05:19 PM
Question: I have noticed many burning wood fires and wondered about how the smoke was just sitting stagnant. I wonder if anyone ever gets called on this or is it similar to the other laws in Marin and Sonoma? Dogs are constantly off leashes or are in areas where it clearly states no dogs; there appears to be no enforcement. Leaf blowers are constantly in use on banned days or for longer than the 30 minutes allowed; does anyone ever complain or enforce these so called rules? Oh an please stay warm and safe everyone!
Cody Kitaura (Editor) December 12, 2013 at 07:51 PM
That's a good question, Francine. Looks like offenders can face a $500 fine, but "only if an Air District inspector personally observes and documents the violation." http://sparetheair.org/sitecore/content/Home/Divisions/Compliance-and-Enforcement/Air-Pollution-Complaints/Wood-Burning-and-Wood-Smoke-Complaints.aspx

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