It's official: Bay Area residents will not be allowed to light fires in their fireplaces on Christmas Day.
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has announced that Wednesday will be a "Winter Spare the Air" day, meaning it is illegal to burn wood, manufactured fire logs or any other solid fuel indoors or outdoors.
There has been no recent rain, winds are light and the mid-week forecast calls for dry, mild weather, which means pollutants that have built up close to the ground will remain stagnant and the air will be unhealthy to breathe, district officials said.
Children, the elderly and those with respiratory conditions are particularly vulnerable to health problems on such days, and Spare the Air days are meant to help them breathe easier by keeping the air as clean as possible.
First-time violations of the ban will be met with a fine of $100, with the option of taking a wood-smoke awareness class instead of paying the penalty. Subsequent violations mean a fine of $500 or more.
Residents can check the daily burn status by visiting the air district's website at sparetheair.org or calling (877) 4-NO-BURN.