The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has issued a Winter Spare the Air Alert for Tuesday, meaning that burning wood or other solid fuels will be prohibited because of high levels of air pollution in the region.
This is the 23rd Spare the Air Alert so far this season, according to the air district.
A strong temperature inversion is causing fine particulate matter to build up in wind-sheltered valleys throughout the Bay Area. Unhealthy air from the Central Valley may also be contributing to air pollution in some parts of the region, air district officials said.
With an estimated 1.4 million fireplaces in the region, wood smoke is the single biggest source of air pollution in the winter months, BAAQMD officials said.
Burning wood, compressed fire logs or other solid fuels in fireplaces, woodstoves, pellet stoves and other devices is prohibited, both indoors and outdoors.
Fines for first-time offenders start at $100, with the option to take a wood smoke awareness class in lieu of payment. Fines for subsequent offenses start at $500.
Homes that do not have permanently installed gas or electric heat are exempt from the wood-burning ban.
BAAQMD officials are also strongly discouraging the public from burning wood for the duration of today, although it is not illegal.
Dave Brooksher, Bay City News