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San Francisco bans all fireplace use during Christmas

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Breanna Deutsch Contributor
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If you’re in San Francisco this Christmas, you can forget about roasting chestnuts on an open fire.

Bay Area officials issued a ban on both indoor and outdoor fires. The ban was in effect Christmas Eve and could extend through Christmas Day, reports local news station KTVU.

A governmental body called the Bay Area Air Quality Management District released a “Winter Spare the Air Alert,” prohibiting residents from burning either wood and manufactured logs or any other solid fuels in all fireplaces.

“We want everyone to enjoy their holiday this week, but unfortunately, weather conditions are causing unhealthy, muddy air again,” Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Bay Area Air District, told KTVU.

He explained, “Air is forecast to be extremely unhealthy this week so it is imperative that residents protect air quality and not burn in their indoor or outdoor fireplaces.”

When the alert is in effect, it is illegal for Bay Area residents and businesses to use their fireplaces, pellet stoves, wood stoves, outdoor fire pits or any wood-burning device — even if approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.

According to Spare the Air’s website, a complete prohibition of devices during an alert is necessary because, “While [EPA-approved devices] burn more cleanly, these wood-burning devices still emit fine particulate air pollution and when the wintertime air pollution reaches unhealthy levels, any burning contributes to excessive air pollution.”

Barbequing is not strictly outlawed during an alert, but it is strongly discouraged. The Air District asks “all Bay Area residents to voluntarily reduce air pollution by making clean air choices every day.” They request that residents reduce or postpone polluting-activities, including barbequing.

First-time offenders will have the option to enroll in a wood smoke awareness class to learn about the hazards of wood smoke pollution, instead of paying a $100 ticket. The second time someone is caught heating their hands by the fire they will be fined $500. Any further violations will result in tickets demanding more than $500.

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