The Olympic Region Clean Air Agency (ORCAA) has called for a Stage 1 Burn Ban for Thurston County starting at 4 p.m. Friday (Nov. 27) and continuing until conditions warrant a change.
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.
Additionally, no visible smoke is allowed from any wood stove or fireplace, certified or not, beyond a 20-minute start-up period.
A system of stable weather conditions over Western Washington, 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, but that’s not forecast to occur until next week at the earliest.
While pollution levels in Thurston County warrants the Stage 1 Ban, other counties within the jurisdiction of the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency (ORCAA) 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.
The 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 older than 65.
Here are some other things people can do to help improve air quality:
▪ If you have a certified wood stove or fireplace insert, make sure you are using it properly so you don’t produce excess chimney smoke. Excess smoke is always illegal. To learn more about clean burning techniques or upgrading to a certified, pellet, natural gas or propane stove, visit www.epa.gov/burnwise
▪ To determine if your stove is certified, visit www.orcaa.org.
▪ Limit your driving as much as possible.