Region in full Burn Ban – Stage 2

by Bruce A. Smith
The “Greater Pierce County Area,” a new legal and environmental designation for those parts of Pierce County east of the Tacoma Narrows and north of the South Pierce Fire District, is now under a full Burn Ban.
Thus, the use of all wood stoves is now prohibited in Spanaway, Graham and Frederickson until the winds return and the weather inversion lifts.
Even though the full ban is not in effect for Eatonville and south County, our air pollution is still considered “moderate,” so residents with health issues are still struggling to breathe comfortably, especially outdoors.
In addition, those residents who have no other source of heat must now obtain a wood-burning permit to use their stoves or fireplaces during the Stage 2 ban.
Although politically controversial, these measures are necessary for public health. State health agencies are reporting that over 100 Washington residents die each year from chronic exposure to wood smoke.
“I don’t know how people can breathe in conditions like this,” said “Cindi,” a paramedic with the South Pierce Fire District recently. “We just had to take a kid with asthma to Mary Bridge.”
Here is the full announcement from the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency:



Stage 2 Continues for Snohomish County; Stage 1 continues for Darrington 
Due to stagnant weather conditions and rising air pollution, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency is elevating the burn ban in Greater Pierce County to a Stage 2 burn ban, effective at 1 PM today, November 27th. 
The Stage 2 burn ban for Snohomish County and Stage 1 burn ban for the Town of Darrington remain in effect.
All bans are in effect until further notice.
Air pollution in the Greater Pierce County area has reached levels that are “unhealthy for sensitive groups” and pollution in Snohomish County remains at levels “unhealthy for sensitive groups”. Winds continue in King County and the far southern portion of Pierce County as well as over the Key Peninsula and Kitsap County that are keeping these areas at “moderate” levels of pollution.
The purpose of a burn ban is to reduce the amount of pollution that is creating unhealthy air usually due to excessive wood smoke. The Clean Air Agency will continue to closely monitor the situation.
* Pierce County residents west of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge on the “Pierce Peninsula” (Gig Harbor Fire #5 and Key Peninsula #16) and in “South Pierce” county (Roy Fire #17, Eatonville, and Ashford #23) are not included in today’s burn ban. Check the map to see which Pierce County burn ban area you live in.
Visit to view the current burn ban status, download our mobile app, and other burn ban alert options for you area.
Use of fireplaces and uncertified wood stoves and inserts prohibited. Pellet stoves, EPA certified wood stoves and inserts are allowed. Outdoor burning prohibited. All wood burning prohibited, including pellet stoves. Outdoor burning prohibited.
  • Fireplaces
  • Uncertified Wood Stoves
  • Uncertified Wood Inserts
  • Outdoor Burning
  • Certified Wood Stoves
  • Certified Wood Inserts
  • Pellet Stoves & Inserts
  It is OK to use natural gas and propane stoves or inserts during a Stage 1 & 2 burn bans.
  • The only exception is if the homeowner has a previously approved ‘No Other Adequate Source of Heat’ designation from the Clean Air Agency
  • Burn ban violations are subject to a $1,000 penalty.
The Washington State Department of Health recommends that people who are sensitive to air pollution limit their time spent outdoors, especially when exercising. 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 purpose of a burn ban is to reduce the amount of pollution that is creating unhealthy air. Puget Sound Clean Air Agency staff will continue to monitor the situation.

For more information:

  • Visit the “Frequently Asked Questions” tab on the Burn Ban Status page
  • How can one tell if their wood stove is certified, and OK to use during a Stage 1 burn ban?  Age matters – if the stove is over 20 years old, it is likely uncertified and prohibited for use during a burn ban.  Uncertified wood stoves are no longer legal to sell or purchase in the State of Washington due to the significant pollution they generate.  A certified stove will have an EPA label on the back.
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The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency is an air quality management agency serving King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties. Created as a result of the 1967 Washington Clean Air Act, the agency protects public health by adopting and enforcing air quality regulations, educating individuals and businesses about clean-air choices, and sponsoring voluntary initiatives to improve air quality.

The Agency fully complies with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and does not discriminate based on race, color, sex, or national origin in its programs and activities.  In addition, the Agency also assures non-discrimination on the basis of creed, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability, marital or veteran status.  For more information, or to submit a title VI Complaint, go to: or call (206) 343-8800.
Posted in Eatonville News, Environment, Frederickson, Graham News, Health, Kapowsin, Politics, Spanaway, Weather | Leave a comment

First Burn Ban of season hits south Pierce County

by Bruce A. Smith
The first burn ban of the 2015 wood stove season is about to descend upon south Pierce County. For the first time, the Puget Sound Air Quality Agency is issuing a burn “warning,” as a prelude to a full burn ban, which is expected to be declared during Thanksgiving Day. In addition, they are applying the anticipated prohibition on the “Greater Perce County area,” which is a new designation. In the past, the ban was given simply to “Pierce County.”
Either way, this includes Graham and Eatonville. The primary culprit are wood-burning stoves, and a full burn ban will limit their use. A Stage One ban disallows the use of fireplaces, uncertified woods stoves, and all outdoor burning, while a Stage Two forbids all types of wood stoves, except for those residents who have no other way to heat their homes.

Continue reading

Posted in Eatonville News, Environment, Frederickson, Graham News, Health, Kapowsin, Nature, Politics, Weather | Leave a comment

An Open-Letter to Graham and the Mountain News-WA Community


by Wayne Cooke

Editor’s Note: Wayne Cooke is a long-time community activist in Graham, and is a former Board member of the Graham-Kapowsin Community Council. In addition to being a former elementary school teacher in the Bethel, Franklin Pierce and Chief Leshi School Districts, Wayne has also established several grassroots programs to build Graham awareness, such as the Graham Citizens Project, the Graham Community Garden, and the Graham Historical Society. Continue reading

Posted in Bethel News, Cops and courts, Culture, Family, Frederickson, Graham News, Kapowsin, Politics, Wayne Cooke | 1 Comment

Death in the DB Cooper “family” – Dona Elliott

by Bruce A. Smith

Dona Elliott, the irrepressible owner of the Ariel Store and Tavern and acclaimed hostess of the Annual DB Cooper Festival, has died.

Her son, Bryan Woodruff, told the Mountain News this week that Dona died of kidney failure triggered by long term lung and cardiac issues. Dona passed away on October 13, 2015, surrounded by family in Longview, Washington. She was 78. Continue reading

Posted in DB Cooper | 2 Comments

In Memoriam – Judy Spiers, Tari Parker, Milt Gordon

by Bruce A. Smith

Three beloved writers of the Mountain News – Judy Spiers, Tari Parker, and Milt Gordon – have passed away in recent years. Although long overdue, I would like to commemorate their lives, their writings, and their contributions to this magazine. Continue reading

Posted in Judy Spiers, Milt Gordon, Tari Parker | 7 Comments

Randle man killed in Eatonville car accident

by Bruce A. Smith

The Washington State Patrol announced this evening that Raymond R. Craig, 20, of Randle, Washington was fatally injured today in a collision on SR 161 at Thomas Rd. This stretch of road is just north of Clear Lake, half-way between Eatonville and Graham, and is noted for its many winding curves and steep road grades. Continue reading

Posted in Cops and courts, Eatonville News, Graham News, Weather | 2 Comments

A short history of the Morse Wildlife Preserve

By Wayne Cooke

In the middle of Graham lies the Morse Wildlife Preserve, an idyllic area totaling 238 acres. Located on 70th Ave, its central portions straddle the headwaters of Muck Creek. Originally a homestead and farm of the Morse family, its ownership and care transferred to a local conservation group, and on September 13, 2015, the Preserve celebrated its 20th year of existence as a wildlife refuge. To commemorate the occasion, the Preserve hosted a large ceremony for staff, benefactors, and guests, and Director Tom Galdabini gave a detailed account of its founding. Here is his story. Continue reading

Posted in Environment, Graham News, Nature, Wayne Cooke | Leave a comment