Winter Spare The Air Season Begins

Burning wood in the Bay Area will be illegal on certain days during the Winter Spare the Air season, which begins Friday, according to air quality officials.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District decides daily during the season, which runs through February, whether air quality in the region is healthy enough to allow the burning of wood, firelogs or other solid fuel.

There were 10 Winter Spare the Air alerts issued during the previous season.

The alerts are generally issued when cold temperatures and calm winds trap pollution close to the ground, creating health hazards particularly for children, the elderly and those with respiratory conditions, air quality officials said.

The air district received 2,316 wood smoke complaints from Bay Area residents during the previous winter season and issued 178 tickets to those observed to be in violation of the wood burning ban.

First-time violators are encouraged to take a wood smoke awareness course to learn more about the health impacts of the pollution.

Those who choose not to take the course receive a $100 ticket, with subsequent violations prompting larger fines, air quality officials said.

“The Winter Spare the Air program has successfully helped the public understand the hazards of wood smoke while helping us make significant progress toward cleaner air in our neighborhoods,” Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the air district, said in a statement.

Residents concerned about wood smoke pollution or looking to see whether the alert is in effect can call (877) 4NO-BURN or visit

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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