Spare the Air Alert in Effect on Christmas, Day After

Severe air quality around the Bay Area is affecting some people this Christmas, and it doesn't look like we are getting any relief soon.

The fourth consecutive "Winter Spare the Air" alert has been issued for Thursday.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District's announcement today means that wood, logs, or other solid fuels cannot be burned in fireplaces, fire pits or any other wood burning device indoors or outdoors for 24 hours.

NBC Bay Area visited some of San Francisco's most traditional, custom-laden, prestigious hotels to see if anyone was cheating. Some of the spots respectfully kept their fireplaces bare. Others sneakily dressed up their hearths to disguise the fact that they were gas-powered.

The only exception is for households that depend on wood burning as a heat source.

A Christmas Day ban on burning wood that is in place means no fireplaces can be lit during the winter holiday.

"We don’t want anyone to spend their holiday in the emergency room because they are unable to breathe," Air District executive officer Jack Broadbent said in a statement. "In the spirit of giving, please give the gift of clean air and do not burn in your wood stove or fireplace.”

The dry, mild weather this week has contributed to the buildup of pollutants that make the air unhealthy to breathe, according to the air district.

Those with respiratory conditions, children and elderly residents are advised to limit outdoor activity during Spare the Air days.

Residents who violate the ban will be levied a $100 fine or can take a wood-smoke awareness classes. Repeat violators will receive a fine of $500 or more.

More information about Spare the Air alerts is available at the air district's website at

This is the season's 19th alert. The season runs until Feb. 28.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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