Jan. 02, 2011 – A Stage Two Burn Ban was called for Thurston County, effective 10 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 02, 2011 and will continue indefinitely. No burning is allowed in fireplaces or wood stoves (certified and uncertified), and all outdoor burning is prohibited, even in areas where outdoor burning is not permanently banned. The ban will be lifted only after a change in weather arrives to improve the air quality.
While pollution levels in Thurston County warrant the Stage Two Ban, other counties within the jurisdiction of the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency (ORCAA) haven’t reached that level. To avoid bans in their areas, the residents of Mason, Pacific, Grays Harbor, Clallam and Jefferson Counties are asked to voluntarily refrain from all outdoor burning, and to use safe alternatives to wood heat if possible.
Of particular concern are fine particles released by smoke from outdoor burning as well as from the use of wood stoves and fireplaces. The Washington State Department of Health recommends that people who are sensitive to air pollution limit time spent outdoors. Air pollution can trigger asthma attacks, cause difficulty breathing, and make lung and heart problems worse. Air pollution is especially harmful to children, people with heart and lung problems, and adults over age 65.
Restrictions During a Stage 2 Burn Ban
* No burning is allowed in ANY wood-burning fireplaces, wood stoves or fireplace inserts (certified or uncertified) or pellet stoves, unless this is your only adequate source of heat. Residents should rely instead on their home’s other, cleaner source of heat (such as their furnace or electric baseboard heaters) for a few days until air quality improves, the public health risk diminishes and the ban is cancelled.
* If your fireplace, pellet stove, or wood stove is your only adequate source of heat and therefore must be used, you must operate it cleanly. No visible smoke is allowed.
* No outdoor fires of any kind are allowed. This includes recreational fires as well as the use of backyard fire kettles, chimineas or firepits.
* Burn ban violations are subject to a monetary penalty.
During a Stage 2 ban, residents may use natural gas and propane appliances.
Olympic Region Clean Air Agency staff will continue to monitor the situation to determine when the burn ban can be lifted. In the meantime, here are some other things people can do to help protect the air we breathe:
• Limit your driving as much as possible, since vehicles are a big source of air pollution year round. Try to link trips – that is, do all your tasks during one outing rather than make multiple trips away from home.
• Reduce engine idling. Rather than pre-starting your vehicle to warm it up, wear a warm jacket and gloves during your drive until the interior warms up. Idling hurts engines and creates high levels of air pollution with no benefit (idling = 0 mpg).
• Check air-quality forecasts and current conditions at www.news.orcaa.org.
For more information about Burn Ban regulations, you may refer to Chapter 173-433 of the Washington Administrative Code.