Clearing the air about burn restrictions

4:21 PM, Dec 16, 2013   |    comments
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SACRAMENTO - To burn or not to burn? It is a concept that can be very confusing.

Burn restrictions are put in place for residents and businesses when fine particle pollution is forecast to be elevated. The program begins on Nov. 1 and runs through the end of February.

Depending on the region, the program has different names. This is the seventh season of the "Check Before You Burn" program for Sacramento County. The Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District monitors air quality for all of the county and cities incorporated within Sacramento County.

There are four stages of alerts:

  • Legal to burn. It is legal to burn and the use of manufactured fire logs is acceptable at this level. 
  • Burning discouraged. The air qualithy district asks residents to voluntarily not burn.
  • Stage 1, No burn unless exempt. It is illegal to burn when fine particle pollution is forecast to be 32-35 micrograms per cubic meter unless EPA certified fireplace inserts or stoves, or pellet stoves are used, and they do not emit visible smoke.
  • Stage 2, all burning prohibited. It is illegal to burn any solid fuel, including wood, manufactured logs and pellets.

According to district spokesperson Lori Kobza, there is help if a wood-burning fireplace is a customer's only source of heat. She says a customer can apply for a sole source of heat or financial hardship waiver.

First-time burn violations will result in a $50 fine.

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District has its own winter-time air pollution reduction program. 

There are only two stages associated with the burn restriction program:

  • Please burn cleanly.
  • Wood-burning prohibited.

For both burn districts, the restriction forecasts are in effect from midnight to midnight.


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