News

Burn bans continue in Snohomish, Pierce counties; King County ban added

Due to continuing cold weather and rising air pollution, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency is issuing a Stage 1 burn ban for King County, effective at 4 p.m. on January 18, 2013. A Stage 2 burn ban continues for Pierce County and a Stage 1 burn ban continues for Snohomish County. These bans are in effect until further notice.

"This weekend we're expecting calm and cold conditions to continue throughout the region, which is why we're issuing a Stage 1 burn ban for King County," said Dr. Phil Swartzendruber, agency forecaster. "In neighborhoods where wood-burning is common, air pollution levels could easily reach the UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS category."

"We encourage everyone who doesn't rely on wood heat to use instead their home's cleaner source of heat until weather conditions change."

Clean Air Agency staff follow a protocol set by state law to determine when and where to issue a burn ban, and when to lift a burn ban.

During a Stage 2 burn ban:

  • No burning is allowed in ANY wood-burning fireplaces, wood stoves or fireplace inserts (certified or uncertified) or pellet stoves. Residents should rely instead on their home's other, cleaner source of heat (such as their furnace or electric baseboard heaters) for a few days until air quality improves, the public health risk diminishes and the ban is cancelled.
  • No outdoor fires are allowed. This includes recreational fires such as bonfires, campfires and the use of fire pits and chimineas.
  • Burn ban violations are subject to a $1,000 penalty.
  • It is OK to use natural gas and propane stoves or inserts during a Stage 2 burn ban.

During a Stage 1 burn ban:

  • No burning is allowed in fireplaces or uncertified wood stoves. Residents should rely instead on their home's other, cleaner source of heat (such as their furnace or electric baseboard heaters) for a few days until air quality improves, the public health risk diminishes and the ban is cancelled.
  • No outdoor fires are allowed. This includes recreational fires such as bonfires, campfires and the use of fire pits and chimineas.
  • Burn ban violations are subject to a $1,000 penalty.

It is OK to use natural gas, propane, pellet and EPA certified wood stoves or inserts during a Stage 1 burn ban.

The Washington State Department of Health recommends that people who are sensitive to air pollution limit time spent outdoors, especially when exercising. Air pollution can trigger asthma attacks, cause difficulty breathing, and make lung and heart problems worse. Air pollution is especially harmful to people with lung and heart problems, people with diabetes, children, and older adults (over age 65).

The purpose of a burn ban is to reduce the amount of pollution that is creating unhealthy air. Puget Sound Clean Air Agency staff will continue to monitor the situation.

For more information:

Frequently asked questions about burn bans

How to heat efficiently and cleanly

Updated air pollution data and forecasts

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