If you're resolved that no Spare the Air ban will keep you from enjoying a wood fire for the New Year's holiday, be aware that air-quality regulators may come knocking at your door.
According to a report in the Mercury-News, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District has received more than 2,000 complaints about wood-burning fires since Nov. 1 and hundreds over Christmas weekend.
"Regulators said more than 400 people tattled on their neighbors for lighting wood fires in their homes on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, a holiday tradition that was illegal this year because of poor air quality," writes reporter Mike Rosenberg.
Of those 400-plus complaints, Rosenberg continues, air district investigators found 77 potential violations they're looking into.
First offenders of the "Spare the Air" burn bans, issued when the district forecasts unhealthy levels of air pollution, receive a warning; the second time regulators find a resident in violation of the ban, it's a $400 ticket, Rosenberg reports.
Homes with no other source of heat are exempt from the ban, but that may not keep neighbors from dropping a dime to report wood burning.
There have been 10 Spare the Air Alerts since Nov. 1 and the season continues through Feb. 29.
It's not clear yet what the air quality will be over the New Year's weekend. The air district issues its 24-hour alerts no later than 2 p.m. the day before.
To find out if a Winter Spare the Air Alert is in effect, residents and business owners who own or use any indoor or outdoor fireplace, fire pit or wood or pellet stove can do the following:
- Call 1-877-4NO-BURN (1-877-466-2876)
- Sign up for automatic phone alerts by calling 1-800-430-1515
- Sign up for email AirAlerts
- Follow @SpareTheAir on Twitter and become a fan of “Spare the Air, Bay Area” on Facebook
To reach the air district with a complaint regarding:
- Burning either indoors or outdoors during a Winter Spare the Air Alert (non-food cooking fires only);
- Excessive smoke coming from a chimney;
- Burning of trash, plastics, or other potentially illegal wood burning activity;
use the Online Wood smoke Complaint Form or call 1-877-4NO-BURN to report the activity.
The district also has translation services to accommodate non-English languages spoken in the Bay Area: 1-800-334-6367.