State One Burn Bans for Thurston & Pierce; Voluntary Ban in Mason

The Olympic Region Clean Air Agency is calling for a Stage One Burn Ban for Thurston County effective 5 PM Friday (Feb. 3, 2012) and continuing through the weekend. The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency is issuing a Stage 1 burn ban in Pierce County, effective at 4 PM Friday, which will also be in effect until further notice. Under a Stage 1 Ban, no burning is allowed in fireplaces or uncertified wood stoves, and all outdoor burning is prohibited, even in areas where outdoor burning is not permanently banned. A system of stable, high pressure over the South Puget Sound region, coupled with cold overnight temperatures has resulted in air pollution levels climbing enough to raise concerns about the air quality and its impacts on health. A change in weather will be needed to restore cleaner air quality, yet that’s not forecast to occur until sometime next week at the earliest. While pollution levels in Thurston County warrant the Stage 1 Ban, other counties within ORCAA’s jurisdiction 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 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.