Spare the Air alert issued for start of Christmas week

21 December 2020

A weather pattern that has trapped smoke from fire places above the Bay Area has prompted a Spare the Air alert for Monday.

The alert, announced Sunday afternoon by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, is the first since Dec. 5, and it prohibits the operation of wood-burning fire places and stoves and even chestnuts roasting by any open fires. Residents are allowed to burn wood for cooking meals, or if it serves as their only source of heat.

“On Monday, smoke from residential wood burning is expected to cause unhealthy air throughout the Bay Area,” Air District Executive Officer Jack Broadbent said in a news release. “During this holiday season, when respiratory health is a priority for us all, it is critical that everyone does their part to improve air quality and protect public health by not burning wood.”

Conditions in the Bay Area are ripe for such an alert, with cold overnight temperatures and light winds allowing smoke to settle beneath a layer of warmer air, which acts like a lid keeping pollutants closer to ground level. Offshore winds, too, may allow air pollution from the Central Valley to drift into the Bay Area, further contributing to poor air quality, according to district officials.

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