Though the weather on Sunday is expected to be frightful, fires won’t be an option for Bay Area residents looking to keep warm.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has issued a Winter Spare the Air alert for Sunday, banning all wood burning throughout the region.

The frigid air that has blanketed the area in recent days is expected to combine with a high pressure weather system that traps smoke from wood-burning sources close to the ground, raising air pollution to unhealthy levels.

“It’s important that Bay Area residents do their part to protect their families and neighbors by not lighting up their fireplaces and wood stoves,” said Jack Broadbent, the air district’s executive officer. “Wood smoke is the ‘other second-hand smoke’ – it’s hazardous like cigarette smoke but has broader public health impacts when it builds up in our communities on cold, still days and nights.”

Using fireplaces, woodstoves, pellet stoves, outdoor fire pits or any other wood-burning device is illegal during a Winter Spare the Air alert, except in homes where woodstoves or fireplaces are the only heat source.

The wood-burning ban comes as the National Weather Service issues another freeze warning for the Bay Area beginning late tonight through Sunday morning, and again from Sunday to Monday morning.

During those times, temperatures are expected to drop to the low to mid-20s inland and to the low 30s near the coast, according to the National Weather Service.

Bay Area residents can find out whether wood burning is permitted on a daily basis at or or by calling (877) 4-NO-BURN.

Laura Dixon, Bay City News

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