Stage 1 burn ban called in Okanogan County

YAKIMA– A Stage 1 burn ban will go into effect at 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, 2013, in Okanogan County, according to the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology), and will continue at least until 10 a.m. Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, when it could be called off or extended. Air quality is expected to deteriorate through much of the weekend.

The Stage 1 ban applies to the use of uncertified wood-burning devices (including wood stoves, inserts and fireplaces) and to all outdoor burning. Ecology’s burn bans don’t apply on tribal reservations, where the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has jurisdiction.

Smoke from outdoor burning and wood-burning devices builds up where cold air is trapped near 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.

Under a Stage 1 ban:

·Use of uncertified wood-burning devices – including fireplaces, wood stoves and inserts – is prohibited unless they are a home’s only adequate source of heat. Uncertified units typically were built before 1990 and lack a certification label on the back of the unit.

·All outdoor burning – including residential, agricultural and forest burning – is prohibited.

·Use of certified wood-burning devices and pellet stoves is allowed. Ecology recommends burning hot fires using only clean, dry wood.

·No excessive smoke is allowed from any wood-burning device beyond a 20-minute start-up.

Burn ban violators are subject to civil penalties. You can report violators by calling Ecology’s smoke complaint hotline (1-866-211-6284).