Friday: another 'Spare the Air' day

With the Bay Area experiencing a winter with some of the worst air quality in years, another "Winter Spare the Air" day has been announced for Friday, Jan. 3.

Friday will be the 26th day this season that an alert has been issued by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, which is banning wood burning in the region because of poor air quality.

A dry, stagnant weather pattern with little wind continues to linger in the Bay Area and does not appear to be leaving any time soon, air district officials said.

"Unfortunately, weather conditions that allow smoke to build up and cause public health impacts have not changed," Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the air district, said in a statement today.

During a Spare the Air day, residents and businesses cannot use fireplaces, woodstoves, outdoor fire pits or any other wood-burning devices indoors or outdoors.

Homes that only have stoves or fireplaces as a source of heat are exempt from the ban.

Violators are subject to a $100 fine or the option to take a wood smoke awareness class. Violators face a $500 fine or higher for subsequent offenses.

Wood smoke has fine particles and other pollutants that make the air harmful to breathe and cause air pollution, according to the district.

Children, the elderly and those with respiratory conditions are most susceptible to the effects of poor air quality, district officials said.

This winter has seen the worst air quality since 2006, primarily due to the dry weather, air district spokesman Aaron Richardson said.

There were 30 "Winter Spare the Air" days for the entire winter season in 2006-2007.

"We are threatening our record for (alerts). And we're only halfway through the season," Richardson said.

The winter season started Nov. 1 and runs until Feb. 28.

More information about the daily burn status is available at or by calling (877) 4-NO-BURN.


Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Jan 2, 2014 at 5:29 pm

So maybe it'll be news when it's *not* a Spare the Air day :-/

Like this comment
Posted by no rain no fire
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 2, 2014 at 7:11 pm

Simple rule of thumb - don't light up until it rains again

Like this comment
Posted by Ted
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jan 3, 2014 at 12:14 pm

I am glad camp fires aren't affected. I will be roasting my marshmallows tonight over a non-visible smoke fire.

Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 3, 2014 at 1:44 pm

In the City of Menlo Park, internal combustion (gas) leaf blowers are also banned on "Spare the Air" days. This part of the noise ordinance is largely unknown and sometimes ignored. Start spreading the word!

Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 3, 2014 at 2:15 pm

That ban on leaf blowers explains the unexplained recent feelings of relaxed bicycling as I commute from Menlo Park, including this morning.

On a normal day, there is always at least one going in the residential 1/4 mile or so before I cross the creek and escape.

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