Ecology ends burn bans in Okanogan County

OLYMPIA – Effective 10 a.m. Feb. 5, 2013, the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) will end the Stage 1 burn ban in Okanogan County.

The ban took effect last Friday, Feb. 1. A Stage 1 ban prohibits use of uncertified wood-burning devices, including wood stoves, inserts and fireplaces, and all outdoor burning.

These activities may resume now. However, local residents should think twice because smoke caused by burning easily builds up at this time of year, when stagnant air conditions can trap smoke close to the ground.

Fine particles in smoke are so small they can easily get into your lungs. Once there, they can cause heart and breathing problems, and even death. Children, people with asthma and respiratory illnesses, and adults older than 65 are most at risk.

By limiting or avoiding burning, residents of Okanogan County can help prevent air quality from deteriorating to the point that burn bans are needed. And by following restrictions when burn bans are called, they can help limit the time period the bans are in effect.

A 2009 Ecology analysis estimates that fine particles contribute to about 1,100 deaths and about $190 million in health-care costs each year in Washington.

For burn ban updates:

· Check local media reports.

· Call Ecology’s daily burn decision hotline (1-800-406-5322 in Washington).

· Check Ecology’s burn bans web page.

· Go online to http://www.waburnbans.net.

About Sandra Partridge

Sandra Partridge works for the Washington State Department of Ecology.

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