OLYMPIA - A ban on all indoor and outdoor burning is in effect in Thurston County until further notice because of poor air quality.
The Olympic Region Clean Air Agency issued the burn ban Thursday morning after pollution levels overnight climbed into the unhealthy range, especially for children, those with respiratory problems and the elderly.
The cold spell and lack of wind is trapping pollution from wood smoke, vehicle exhaust and other sources close to the ground, causing the air-pollution.
The burn ban is likely to remain in place until sometime this weekend, when a new weather system is expected to reach the region and clean out the bad air.
The burn ban applies to certified and uncertified fireplaces, wood stoves, pellet stoves and fireplace inserts, as well as outdoor burning, clean air agency officials said.
The last total burn ban in Thurston County occurred Jan. 19-24, during another spell of stagnant air, agency air monitoring technician Jim Werner said.
The only exception to the ban is if the wood-burning device is the only adequate source of heat in the home.
An adequate source of heat is defined as one that can heat the primary living space to 70 degrees at least 3 feet off the floor, agency spokesman Dan Nelson said.
Burn-ban violators are subject to a financial penalty, but the air agency relies primarily on voluntary compliance, Nelson said.
“We’re not going to be out inspecting chimneys,” he said.
South Sound residents also are asked to restrict vehicle driving and idling time to reduce auto emissions.
To check air quality forecasts and conditions, go to www.orcaa.org.
John Dodge: 360-754-5444