Spare the Air alert a possibility for Christmas


The Bay Area Air Quality Management District is asking residents to check before burning any wood fires this week, as roasting chestnuts over an open fire may not be an option this Christmas.

The district issued a reminder on Tuesday asking residents to sign up for air-quality alerts, or check to see if a Spare the Air alert has been issued, before using their fireplaces or wood stoves.

Weather forecasts for the end of this week, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, predict light winds and cool dry air that stays near the ground. According to the BAAQMD, these conditions trap smoke, causing unhealthy breathing conditions across the region.

The district has already issued two winter Spare the Air alerts, its first one falling on Thanksgiving Day. On these days, Bay Area residents are prohibited from burning wood or manufactured fire logs in fireplaces, wood stoves, fire pits or in any other capacity. The ban extends to both indoor and outdoor fires.

The wood-burning rule went into effect last winter, and about 15 to 20 alerts are expected to be issued this season. First-time violators will receive a warning, but repeat offenses will lead to increasingly bigger tickets, starting at $400.

According to the BAAQMD, there are about 1.4 million fireplaces and wood stoves in the Bay Area, and smoke is the region's largest source of wintertime air pollution.

The district posts the next day's air quality forecast by 1:30 p.m. daily. Sign up for alerts at or by phone at 800-430-1515.

— Bay City News Service


Like this comment
Posted by Jim
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 23, 2009 at 4:13 pm

My lungs were burning from the air pollution when I was walking down the street this morning. I'm tempted to start knocking on doors and tell people to put those fires out. It has to be more dangerous than second hand smoke.

Like this comment
Posted by Question
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 23, 2009 at 11:44 pm

I am wondering if authorities will declare a spare the air alert for Thanksgiving and Christmas Day just because they expect a lot of people to want to have a fire going in the fireplace on these 2 holidays, and not because meteorological conditions actually warrant it...

Like this comment
Posted by Jim
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 24, 2009 at 12:37 am

Go outside right now (Wednesday night). You can smell the smoke all over town. Even people that are not especially sensitive can feel some burning in their lungs and eyes. Wingnut conspiracy theories cannot refute what you can observe first hand.

Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of Los Altos
on Dec 24, 2009 at 8:45 am

Yeah, you can smell the wood burning. But get a grip - when we have raging forest fires (like we do EVERY year) conditions are so bad that I literally have a layer of ash in my yard. I feel no affects from fireplaces, but on those days I can barley breathe at all when I go outside. If fireplaces affected you THAT much, you'd drop dead during those forest fire weeks.

It's pretty easy to exaggerate if/how much the fireplaces are affecting you. And if you're not exaggerating, then what do you do when we have a forest fire - leave the state for a month, because there can be no argument that those conditions are 100x worse.

Like this comment
Posted by Thanks, Scrooges
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 24, 2009 at 12:54 pm

The only two times I want to use my fireplace is Christmas and Thanksgiving, and those are our spare the air days. Why not stop all fireworks on the fourth of July and make it a perfect trifecta? Is Jim the reincarnation of Ebeneezer??

Like this comment
Posted by Jim
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 24, 2009 at 12:57 pm

If people would pollute less year-round, then we wouldn't need these "Spare the Air" days when the air pollution gets especially dangerous.

Like this comment
Posted by Jingletones
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 24, 2009 at 5:52 pm

Chestnuts roasting on a solar panel...

Like this comment
Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 24, 2009 at 8:33 pm


PD knocking on your door
Yuletide fines being sung by a Cop
And neighbors pointing fingers to and fro...

Although its been said many times, many ways,
Merry Christmas to you..

Like this comment
Posted by Jim
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 25, 2009 at 10:47 am

Today's air pollution forecast is 110 particulate matter. The healthy range is between 0 and 50. Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Jingletones
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 25, 2009 at 1:32 pm

(Standing ovation for Outside Observer). Lol!!!

Merry Christmas ((cough cough))

Like this comment
Posted by Humbug
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 25, 2009 at 1:39 pm

Even on Christmas, Palo Alto residents find something to whine about--Jim's post are extreme exaggerations of the truth.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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