Why Northern California is banning a cozy, roaring fire in your fireplace

Why Northern California is banning a cozy, roaring fire in your fireplace

You could get a big fine if you live in the Golden State and you burn indoors.

It’s January, and the temperatures will be diving down in the Golden State — but don’t even think about starting a fire in your home’s fireplace.

The Bay Area Quality Management District has just declared the first Spare the Air day of the season — so no wood burning will be allowed, either indoors or outdoors, for at least 24 hours starting midnight on Saturday, according to an SFGate.com report.

If the authorities somehow catch a glimpse in your home and see you warming up by the fire, get ready for a $100 ticket — and that’s just for the first offense. A second violation is a hefty $500 ticket, and the fines only go up from there. (As an alternative to the first ticket, you can take a wood smoke awareness class.)

Why is Northern California taking such extreme measures? It’s because of concerns about air pollution, which poses “one of the greatest health threats to Bay Area residents during the winter months,” air district executive officer Jack Broadbent said in a statement.

Broadbent warned that even a singl eburning fireplace can result in unhealthy air for the entire neighborhood, so think before you want to sit down with a hot cup of cocoa and a roaring fire.

“It is important that the public refrain from burning, especially during these weather conditions that allow wood smoke to build up,” he added.

The statement notes things will be different this year than in prior years.

“Also new this winter, when weather conditions are present for wood smoke build-up, the Air District
will call Winter Spare the Air Alerts up to three days in advance to avoid air pollution that exceeds
federal standards,” it reads. “This will likely increase the number of Winter Spare the Air Alerts in the future.
Like cigarette smoke, wood smoke contains many carcinogenic substances which make the air
harmful to breathe. Smoke pollution from fireplaces builds up inside homes as well as in yards and
neighborhoods. The fine particulate pollution in wood smoke is especially harmful for children, the
elderly and those with respiratory conditions. Fine particulate pollution is known to cause more than
90 percent of the premature deaths related to air pollution.”

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