FAIRFIELD — Another late-autumn day, another burn ban for the Bay Area and southern Solano County.
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has called a 10th consecutive Winter Spare the Air day for Tuesday. It predicts that the prevailing weather pattern will continue to make pollution from wood smoke a potential public health problem.
Residents in southern Solano County – including Fairfield, Suisun City, Vallejo and Benicia – who burn wood will face getting a fine. That includes using fireplaces, wood stoves, pellet stoves and outdoor fire pits. Homes without permanently installed heating, where wood stoves or fireplaces are the only source of heat, are exempt.
Pollutants accumulate over a number of days, district spokesman Ralph Borrmann said.
“If we had rain, that would bring lots of wind and push things out,” Borrmann said. “But it’s been an incredibly dry year.”
District officials predict that an onshore breeze may develop by Wednesday. But the winds might be slow to arrive and air quality might not improve enough to avoid an 11th consecutive alert that day, they said in a press release.
Winter Spare the Air alerts are issued on a day-to-day basis, Borrmann said.
First-time violators face a $100 fine or must take a class to learn about the hazards of wood smoke pollution. Second-time violators face a $500 ticket, with the amount rising for subsequent offenses.
Mandatory alerts do not affect the north county, including Vacaville, Rio Vista and Dixon. That area is in the Yolo-Solano Air Quality Management District, which issues voluntary alerts only.
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has divided the Bay Area into five zones: The Northern, Coast and Central Bay, Eastern, South Central and Santa Clara Valley zones. It makes air quality predictions for each zone. But when it calls a Spare the Air alert, the alert covers the entire district.
As it stands, Fairfield-Suisun and Benicia didn’t escape the bad air Monday and aren’t expected to Tuesday. The air district lists air quality in the Eastern Zone for those two days as being unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as people with respiratory disease.
Vallejo is in the Northern Zone, which the district predicts will have moderately good air Tuesday. But since Winter Spare the Air alerts are districtwide, Vallejo residents still face a fine if they burn wood Tuesday.
Winter Spare the Air season for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District runs through Feb. 28. It’s the 14th Winter Spare the Air alert of the season.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.