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Officials issue New Year's Day Spare the Air alert for Bay Area

Published: Monday, December 31, 2012 at 12:43 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, December 31, 2012 at 12:49 p.m.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District issued a a warning Monday afternoon prohibiting the burning of wood on New Year's Day.

It is the first such prohibition of the district's current Winter Spare the Air season, which runs from Nov. 1 through Feb. 28. Aside from wood, the burning of manufactured logs or any other solid fuel both indoors and outdoors is banned for 24 hours, beginning at midnight.

“Current weather conditions are expected to allow air pollution to build up to unhealthy levels on New Year's Day,” Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the air district said in a written statement.

The air district said Bay Area region currently is experiencing a cold, stagnant weather pattern that will remain in the area through mid-week. In such conditions, the earth cools the air closest to the ground and creates an inversion layer of warmer air at higher levels.

That in turn causes smoke and other pollution to stay trapped under the cover of warm air. The pollution can rapidly build to unhealthy levels throughout the Bay Area, the air district said.

Bay Area residents and businesses cannot use their fireplaces, wood stoves and inserts, pellet stoves, outdoor fire pits, or any other wood-burning devices.

Exemptions are available for residents and businesses that use wood burning devices as their sole source of heat.

The district includes the portion of Sonoma County south of Healdsburg,

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