December 11, 2009
NEW — 6 a.m. Dec. 11, 2009
Forget lighting a crackling fire to combat brutal cold. A burn ban went into effect today for all wood-burning fireplaces and devices.
Puget Sound Clean Air Agency officials enacted the first burn ban of the winter heating season. The ban includes King, Kitsap and Pierce counties, and was enacted because cold weather conditions and increased fireplace use created unhealthy pollution levels for young children, seniors and people with heart and lung problems, officials said.
During the Stage 2 burn ban, no burning is allowed in any wood-burning fireplaces, woodstoves, fireplace inserts or pellet stoves unless the sources provide the only available heat source.
Because the weather conditions are expected to linger for several days, the burn ban was expanded to reduce wood smoke emissions in the central Puget Sound region. Even if a fireplace, pellet stove, or wood stove is the only adequate source of heat, no visible smoke is allowed.
Outdoor fires — even bonfires, campfires and fire pits — are prohibited. Ban violators face a $1,000 penalty.
The agency asked residents to rely on other sources of heat, such as a furnace or electric baseboard heater, for a few days until air quality improves. Officials said weather conditions would likely prevent the removal of the Stage 2 ban before Saturday.
State Department of Health officials recommend for people who are sensitive to air pollution limit time spent outdoors. Pollution can trigger asthma attacks, cause difficulty breathing, and worsen lung and heart problems.