Fireplace, woodstove use OK; burn ban lifted

December 9, 2009

By Warren Kagarise

UPDATED — 2:55 p.m. Dec. 13, 2009

Go ahead, light a crackling fire to combat the brutal cold. A burn ban for all wood-burning fireplaces and devices was lifted Sunday morning.

Puget Sound Clean Air Agency officials lifted the ban after air quality improved.

The agency enacted the first burn ban of the winter heating season Wednesday. The ban included King, Kitsap and Pierce counties, and was enacted because cold weather conditions and increased fireplace use created unhealthy pollution levels for young children, seniors and people with heart and lung problems, officials said.

During the Stage 2 burn ban, no burning is allowed in any wood-burning fireplaces, woodstoves, fireplace inserts or pellet stoves unless the sources provide the only available heat source.

Because the weather conditions are expected to linger for several days, the burn ban was expanded to reduce wood smoke emissions in the central Puget Sound region. Even if a fireplace, pellet stove, or wood stove is the only adequate source of heat, no visible smoke is allowed.

Outdoor fires — even bonfires, campfires and fire pits — were also prohibited. Ban violators faced a $1,000 penalty.

State Department of Health officials recommend for people who are sensitive to air pollution limit time spent outdoors. Pollution can trigger asthma attacks, cause difficulty breathing, and worsen lung and heart problems.

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