Bay Area under winter Spare the Air alert

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) -- A Winter Spare the Air Alert has been issued for Thursday in the Bay Area, meaning a wood-burning ban is in effect for the fourth straight day in the region, air district officials said.

The alert means that for 24 hours, it's illegal to burn wood, manufactured fire logs or other solid fuel, indoors or outdoors, according to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

An exception is made for residents whose sole source of heat is a wood-burning device, but that device must be Environmental Protection Agency-certified or a pellet-fueled device registered with the air district.

Exceptions are no longer made for open-hearth devices, according to the air district.

Wood smoke is the largest source of pollution in the Bay Area during the winter and wood smoke makes the air harmful to breathe because it consists of fine particles and carcinogens.

Wood smoke is especially harmful to children, seniors and people with respiratory illnesses, air district officials said. Exposure to wood smoke has also been linked to heart attacks.

"To protect our families and neighbors this holiday season, it's important that Bay Area residents not burn wood," air district executive officer Jack Broadbent said in a statement.

Residents and business owners during the winter season must check to see whether a Spare the Air Alert has been issued. The winter Spare the Air season started Nov. 1 and lasts until the end of February.

Violating the wood-burning ban can result in a $100 fine. Violators have the option of paying the fine or taking an awareness class by mail or online. A second violation results in a $500 fine and fines are higher for subsequent violations, air district officials said.

Residents and business owners can check whether an alert has been issued by calling (877) 466-2876, visiting or, signing up for email alerts at, signing up for automatic phone alerts by calling (800) 430-1515 or downloading Spare the Air apps for iPhone and Android operating systems.

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