FAIRFIELD — After a brief break, the Winter Spare the Air alert and accompanying ban on chimney fires and other wood burning has returned.
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has called an alert for Monday. Residents in southern Solano County – including Fairfield, Suisun City, Vallejo and Benicia – who burn wood in a fireplace on Monday will face getting a fine.
Local residents who like a winter’s fire in their fireplaces endured 11 consecutive burn bans from Dec. 8 through Dec. 18. A weather system then cleared out the stagnant air that can trap wood smoke close to the ground. But the brief respite has come to an end.
The Bay Area is once again caught in a stagnant pattern and fine particulate pollution is expected to rise to unhealthy levels, said Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the district, in a press release. It is important for residents to refrain from wood burning and further contributing to the unhealthy air that will plague the region, he said.
“Dry weather is forecast for the week and threatens to cause high levels of pollution to build up through the Christmas holiday,” Broadbent said.
It is illegal for Bay Area residents and businesses to use their fireplaces, wood stoves, pellet stoves, outdoor fire pits or any other wood-burning devices during a Winter Spare the Air Alert. Homes without permanently installed heating, where wood stoves or fireplaces are the only source of heat, are exempt.
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.
The mandatory alerts do not affect the north county, including Vacaville, Rio Vista and Dixon. This area is in the Yolo-Solano Air Quality Management District.
Winter Spare the Air season for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District runs until Feb. 28. Residents can find out if an alert is in place using the following methods:
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.