Burn ban begins Thursday in Pierce County

Editor's note: the following is a press release issued by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.

Due to forecasted stagnant weather conditions and rising air pollution levels, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency issued a Stage 1 burn ban for Pierce and Snohomish counties, effective Thursday, Nov. 30.

This ban will be in effect until further notice.

A large ridge of high pressure off the Pacific Coast is expected to bring cold evenings and poor ventilation to the Pacific Northwest for the next several days. Pollution levels are expected to rise throughout the region, but especially in Pierce and Snohomish communities where residential wood burning is common. Air pollution levels in these areas could reach "unhealthy for sensitive groups," according to the PSCAA.

"Smoke from fireplaces and wood stoves is the single largest source of air pollution in our neighborhoods in the wintertime -- and this pollution can build up quickly when it’s cold and not very windy," said Craig Kenworthy, executive director of the agency. "Breathing this smoke causes major medical problems in vulnerable groups like children and the elderly. Please help them by avoiding burning when our air quality is poor or deteriorating."

During a Stage 1 burn ban no burning is allowed in fireplaces or uncertified wood stoves. Residents should rely instead on their home’s other, cleaner source of heat (like a furnace or electric baseboard heaters) for a few days until air quality improves, the public health risk diminishes and the ban is cancelled. The only exception is if a wood stove is a home’s only adequate source of heat.

Outdoor fires are also not allowed. This includes bonfires, campfires and the use of fire pits and chimineas.

Burn ban violations are subject to a $1,000 penalty.

It is OK to use natural gas, propane, pellet and EPA certified wood stoves or inserts during a Stage 1 burn ban.

This is the first air quality burn ban of the season for the Puget Sound region. The purpose of a burn ban is to reduce the amount of pollution that is creating unhealthy air. Puget Sound Clean Air Agency staff will continue to monitor the situation.

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