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New Year Begins With 'Spare the Air' Alert

This is the 24th alert the air district has issued since the Winter Spare the Air season started Nov. 1.

Fireplaces will remain cold and dark as the New Year starts. (Photo: Patch Archive)
Fireplaces will remain cold and dark as the New Year starts. (Photo: Patch Archive)

The new year is starting in the Bay Area the same way the old year ended -- with a Winter Spare the Air alert banning wood burning throughout the region.

A persistent dry, cold-weather pattern has resulted in a buildup of pollution and has prompted the Bay Area Air Quality Management District to issue the alert for Wednesday. It is the 24th alert the air district has issued since the Winter Spare the Air season started Nov. 1.

New Year's Eve was also a Spare the Air day.

During a Winter Spare the Air day, wood burning is banned both indoors and outdoors except for homes that depend on it as the lone source of heat.

The recent flurry of Winter Spare the Air has been due to persistent high-pressure cold weather systems that trap unhealthy particulate matter close to the ground, according to the air district.

Wood burning is the major source of air pollution in the Bay Area during the winter and is particularly harmful to children, the elderly and people with respiratory conditions, district officials said.

Those found to be violating the wood-burning ban will have to pay a $100 fine or take a wood-smoke awareness class. Subsequent violations are subject to tickets of $500 and higher.

The daily burn status can be found on the air district's website at www.sparetheair.org, by calling (877) 4-NO-BURN or by downloading Spare the Air iPhone or Android smartphone apps.

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