Burn Ban reduced to Stage 1 as air quality improves – use of fireplaces still prohibited

Air quality in Pierce County is improving due to changing weather conditions and compliance with burn band restrictions, state officials announced today. 

As a result, the Stage 2 Burn Ban, which forbid all use of wood stoves, has been reduced to a Stage 1 restriction.  This means that the injunction against fireplaces and uncertified wood stoves remains in effect in Pierce County.

 Here is the press release issued today by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency:


 Effective at 1 p.m. today, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency is lowering the air quality burn ban to a Stage 1 in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.  This ban remains in effect until further notice.  The purpose of a burn ban is to reduce the amount of pollution that is creating unhealthy air, usually due to excessive wood smoke.

 “Air pollution levels throughout the region have dropped, likely due to clouds and warmer temperatures,” said Dr. Phil Swartzendruber, agency forecaster.  “The drop in pollution could also be due to the help of our communities following the burn ban.”

 Dr. Swartzendruber added, “Calm, cold, and clear weather conditions are likely to continue over the next few days, so ongoing cooperation with the burn ban will help keep our air healthy.”

Burn ban enforcement has significantly increased in the Tacoma-Pierce County Smoke Reduction Zone.  Wood burning during a ban may result in a fine, with fines in the past reaching $1,000. Increased enforcement and night patrols will increase the likelihood of violators receiving substantial fines this season.

 During a Stage 1 burn ban:

  • No burning is allowed in fireplaces or uncertified wood stoves.  Residents should rely instead on their home’s other, cleaner source of heat (such as their furnace or electric baseboard heaters) for a few days until air quality improves, the public health risk diminishes and the ban is cancelled. 
  • No outdoor fires are allowed.  This includes recreational fires such as bonfires, campfires and the use of fire pits and chimineas.
  • Burn ban violations are subject to a $1,000 penalty.

It is OK to use natural gas, propane, pellet and EPA-certified wood stoves or inserts during a Stage 1 burn ban

 The Washington State Department of Health recommends that people who are sensitive to air pollution limit 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).

 For more information:                                                                                      

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.


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