Burn ban issued in King County

Effective 4 p.m. today, Jan. 11, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency is issuing a stage one burn ban for King County and surrounding Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties, until further notice due to worsening air quality. Residents are prohibited from using fireplaces and uncertified wood stoves until air quality improves.

High pressure over the Puget Sound region will bring cold temperatures and calm winds, according to Clean Air Agency forecasters. Air quality is expected to deteriorate at least through Friday, especially in communities where residential wood burning is common.

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 one burn ban:

- No burning is allowed in fireplaces or uncertified wood stoves. A certified stove has an EPA label on the back. 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 one 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. The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, an air quality management agency, will continue to monitor the situation.

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