By Martin Espinoza, December 26, 2013
Trapped under an inversion layer a combination of pollutants create a
haze over the Santa Rosa plain with Mt. St. Helena above it all,
Tuesday Dec. 17, 2013 as seen from Burnside Road near Sebastopol.
Yes, you guessed it, the Bay Area Air Quality Management district has
deemed Friday to be yet another no-burn day — the 20th such alert since
the region’s Winter Spare the Air season began nearly two months ago.
have been more wood burning bans called this season — which is only
half over — than in any year since the Bay Area pollution rule began in
late 2008. Air quality district officials blame this winter’s
extraordinary dry stagnant cold weather for the record number of no-burn
“Winter weather and air pollution go hand in hand,” said
Tom Flannigan, a spokesman for the air quality district. “We haven’t
seen the rain and wind we usually see that helps us clean out the air.”
a Spare the Air day is called, it’s illegal for Bay Area residents and
businesses to use fireplaces, wood stoves, pellet stoves, outdoor fire
pits or any other wood-burning devices. Those who violate the rule will
be given the option of taking a wood smoke awareness class, online or by
mail, or pay a $100 fine. Second violations will bring a $500 ticket.
The penalty with increase from there with subsequent violations.
In Sonoma County, the bay area district boundaries generally include the land south of Windsor.
said that pollution from burning wood comprises the largest share of
winter pollution in the Bay Area. Wood smoke makes up 38 percent of
winter particulate matter, compared to 15 percent for vehicle exhaust,
12 percent for geological sources such as mountain dust and 11 percent
for factory combustion, according to the air district website.
record number of no-burn days has shattered the previous record of 15
during the 2011/2012 season. The Spare the Air season lasts from Nov. 1
to Feb. 28. By comparison, only 4 no-burn alerts were called during the