BAAQ

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has issued the winter season’s first “Spare the Air Alert” for Saturday, Dec. 5, which bans the burning of wood, manufactured fire logs, or any other solid fuel, both indoors and outdoors.

The agency said smoke from increased burning is expected to result in unhealthy air quality due to cold overnight temperatures combined with light east winds. A high-pressure system in place over Northern California will act like a lid, trapping smoke at ground level. Offshore winds may also allow air pollution from the San Joaquin Valley to drift into the Bay Area.

"The Bay Area is expected to experience unhealthy air quality due to weather conditions that trap wood smoke near the ground and allow it to build up,” said Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Bay Area Air District. “When air quality is unhealthy, it is important we all do our part to reduce harmful pollution by not burning wood.”

The alert makes it illegal for Bay Area residents and businesses to use their fireplaces, wood stoves, pellet stoves, outdoor fire pits or any other wood-burning devices. Anyone whose sole source of heat is a wood-burning device may seek an exemption, but must use an EPA-certified or pellet-fueled device that is registered with the Air District. An open-hearth fireplace no longer qualifies for an exemption.

The district is responsible for protecting the air quality in the nine-county Bay Area. For more information, go to www.sparetheair.org.