Burn ban lowered to Stage 1, but don't burn that wood yet

As of 1 p.m. today, Jan. 15, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency is lowering the air quality burn ban to Stage 1 in King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties.

However, this doesn't mean you can just start burning wood willy-nilly. In fact, most of the same restrictions are in place. No burning is allowed in fireplaces or uncertified wood stoves, and no outdoor fires are allowed, including bonfires, camp fires, fire pits and chimineas.

Yes, this means no fires at Golden Gardens.

It is OK to use natural gas, propane, pellet and EPA-certified wood stoves or inserts during a Stage 1 burn ban.

Burn ban violations are still subject to fines of up to $1,000.

"Air pollution levels throughout the region have dropped, likely due to clouds and warmer temperatures," said Dr. Phil Swartzendruber, agency forecaster. "The drop in pollution could also be due to the help of our communities following the burn ban."

Dr. Swartzendruber added, "Calm, cold, and clear weather conditions are likely to continue over the next few days, so ongoing cooperation with the burn ban will help keep our air healthy."

The Washington State Department of Health is recommending that people who are sensitive to air pollution limit time spent outdoors, especially when exercising. According to them, air pollution can trigger asthma attacks, cause difficulty breathing, and make lung and heart problems worse. Air pollution is especially harmful to people with lung and heart problems, people with diabetes, children, and older adults (over age 65).

The Clean Air Agency will continue to closely monitor the air quality and weather situation.

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