The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency has issued a Stage 1 burn ban for Snohomish County, effective at 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 29. This ban remains in effect until further notice.
After a few lingering showers, weather conditions are forecast to become cold and dry this weekend. Air pollution is expected to build up to levels unhealthy for sensitive groups, especially in communities where wood-burning is common, the agency said. These cold and stagnant conditions could persist into next week, when a weak system forecast is expected to arrive and disperse pollution.
The purpose of a burn ban is to reduce the amount of pollution that is creating unhealthy air usually due to excessive wood smoke. The Clean Air Agency will continue to closely monitor the situation.
Wood burning during a ban may result in a fine, with fines in the past reaching $1,000. Increased enforcement and night patrols will increase the likelihood of violators receiving substantial fines this season.
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. The only exception is if a wood stove is a home’s only adequate source of heat.
– 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).