A burn ban for Christmas

A stage 1 burn ban will be in effect in Thurston County at least until Sunday morning.

Under a stage 1 ban, no burning is allowed in fireplaces or uncertified wood stoves, and all outdoor burning is prohibited. Also, no visible smoke is allowed from any woodstove or fireplace beyond a 20-minute start-up period.

A system of stable, high pressure over Western Washington, coupled with low overnight temperatures, has resulted in potentially unhealthy air-pollution levels. A change in the weather, which is required to restore cleaner air, isn’t expected until early Sunday.

“I can tell you from a weather perspective, that this is an El Niño winter, and during El Niño winters, we tend to have more stagnant weather patterns such as this,” said Ted Buehner, warning-coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

The burn ban doesn’t affect Mason, Pacific and Grays Harbor counties, which also are within the jurisdiction of the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency. However, residents of those counties are asked to refrain from outdoor burning if possible.

Of particular concern are fine particles released by smoke from woodstoves and fireplaces. The Washington State Department of Health recommends that people who are sensitive to air pollution limit the amount of time they spend outdoors. Air pollution can trigger asthma attacks, cause breathing difficulty and worsen lung and heart problems, according to the agency. Air pollution is especially harmful to children and adults older than 65.


For updates on air-quality conditions, go to