Due to continuing cold weather and rising air pollution, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency has elevated a burn ban in Pierce County to a more restrictive Stage 2.
The revised order took effect at 1 p.m. on Thursday and means the following:
• No burning is allowed in any wood-burning fireplaces, wood stoves, pellet stoves or fireplace inserts, whether they’re certified or not. Under a Stage 1 ban that began last Saturday, burning in certified stoves was allowed.
• 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.
“Pollution levels in Pierce County spiked overnight” and reached levels that are considered unhealthy for pollution-sensitive people, Dr. Phil Swartzendruber, Clean Air Agency forecaster, said Thursday. “We expect cold, stagnant conditions for at least the next few days so are raising the ban to Stage 2 to protect Pierce County communities from worsening air quality.”
He said residents who don’t rely on wood for heat their homes to use cleaner source of heat “until weather conditions change,” Swartzendruber said.
The agency, following guildelines within state law, determine when and where to issue or lift burn bans in Pierce, King and Snohomish counties.
The 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. Puget Sound Clean Air Agency staff will continue to monitor the situation.