20 “Spare the Air” Days So Far This Season; Highest Since 2006

Bay Area residents are being asked to watch the air quality again on Friday as a series of "Winter Spare  the Air" alerts issued by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District  continues.

District officials announced that wood burning will be  banned in the Bay Area on Friday for the fifth day in a row and the 20th day  this season. This is the highest number of "Spare the Air" days during the November-to-February season since 2006, when there were 30.

Last year, there were 10 Spare the Air days during the same time frame, in 2011, there were 15, and four in 2010, according to sparetheair.org.

NBC Bay Area meteorologist Christina Loren said earlier in December, there were 11 consecutive days of Spare the Air alerts. That stretch of wood-burning bans reached historic highs.

The forecast shows that Saturday, Sunday and Monday all look to be fine air quality- wise.

Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the air district, urged the public to observe the restrictions and acknowledged that there have been a  lot of wood-burning bans lately.

"We continue to see stagnant, pollution-trapping weather  conditions and unhealthy levels of air pollution in the region, prompting  another Winter Spare the Air alert," he said.

On Spare the Air days, residents are banned from burning wood, fire logs or any other solid fuel indoors or outdoors, unless they live in a  home where woodstoves or fireplaces are the sole source of heat.

Those who violate the ban for the first time will have to pay $100  or take a wood-smoke awareness class; subsequent violations will be punished  with a fine of $500 or more.

The idea of Spare the Air days is to keep the air as clean as  possible on days when high levels of unhealthy particulate matter have  accumulated close to the ground.

Winter Spare the Air season runs from Nov. 1 through Feb. 28. Bay  Area residents can check the daily burn status by calling (877) 4-NO-BURN or  visiting the district's website at www.sparetheair.org

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