Winter Spare the Air Alert Issued for Saturday December 14th

December 13, 2013 15:30 pm · 57 comments


The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) has issued the eleventh Spare the Air alert of the season, banning wood burning on Saturday Dec. 14th for the seventh day in a row.

The following information is from the BAAQMD:

Wood burning is banned both indoors and outdoors tomorrow, Saturday Dec. 14, 2013.

Air quality in the Bay Area is forecast to be unhealthy. It is illegal for Bay Area residents to burn wood or other solid fuels in fireplaces, wood stoves and inserts, pellet stoves, outdoor fire-pits, or other wood-burning devices.

This wood-burning ban will be in effect for Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, southern Sonoma and southwestern Solano Counties.

Winter air pollution is mainly caused by particulates or soot pollution from wood smoke. Smoke from wood-burning fires is linked to illnesses such as asthma, bronchitis and lung disease, and is especially harmful for children and the elderly.

For more information about the Wood Burning Rule, or to check before you burn, visit or call 1-877-4NO-BURN.

You can also call 1-800-430-1515 and register to receive automatic phone calls when a Winter Spare the Air Alert has been called.

To see the current air quality forecast visit

Visit the Apple App Store to download our FREE Spare the Air iPhone application for alert notifications, local air quality forecasts, podcasts and several tools to help reduce air pollution!

Thank you for doing your part to Spare the Air!

This AirAlert is provided by your Bay Area Air Quality Management District.


1 Getting old December 13, 2013 at 3:42 PM

Why don’t they just ban wood fires altogether, instead of one day at a time? At least that would be honest.

2 picklehead December 13, 2013 at 3:43 PM

great, such a joke of an organization.

3 haha..... December 13, 2013 at 3:47 PM

Come and get me. I’m burning my wood in fireplace also tonight going to light a bon fire outside with family. This law is so stupid they should instead power off certain refinery or power supply for 2 hours to help. Go green don’t turn on the heater place a fire and get toasty and warm melting marshmellows

4 Explain Yourselves December 13, 2013 at 3:50 PM

And that makes how many Consecutive days ?
They eliminated wood as cause by having spare the air . . . . . . Yet pollution problem doesn’t go away, is it perhaps more than wood causing the problem that they’re too chicken to address ?

Bought an EPA certified pellet stove back when BAAQMD said EPA certified would be allowed, then they pulled an obama and banned even the cleaner burning pellet stoves.

WHY shouldn’t I rip out that pellet stove and go back to burning the more polluting wood, would save me money ?

5 anon December 13, 2013 at 3:53 PM

Don’t worry everyone PGE and BAAQMD will let us burn as soon as we paid all of their fines and fill their pockets with money!!!!

6 Silva December 13, 2013 at 3:54 PM

The air’s horrible. It’s as bad as Mexico City EVERYWHERE around the bay right now. Yeah, STA right. What air?

7 silly rabbit December 13, 2013 at 4:07 PM

AAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHH… I’m sure I’ll feel much healthier when they pry us off our frozen beds. Cant wait until summer time so I can use my fireplace.

8 Bobfshed December 13, 2013 at 4:12 PM

The air is not bad because of wood fires. Over 2/3 of the pollution in the air today comes from sources other than wood fires. That is from the BAAQMD website. If you are having trouble breathing I suggest you find out where all the pollution is coming from, be proactive and help stop it.
The wood fire debate is a mask for the real problem!

9 vindex December 13, 2013 at 4:12 PM

“I’d rather live on my feet than die on my knees” FDR, US President

10 Howard K Mullins III December 13, 2013 at 4:18 PM

Perhaps they should start telling us when its NOT a spare the air day.

11 ohkaydohkay December 13, 2013 at 4:27 PM

thanks for the heads up ..I shall now celibate by idling my 5.7 liter v8 for an hour and ever few minutes revving the engine to 7000 rpm ….happy spare the air day …

12 KenInConcord December 13, 2013 at 4:30 PM

What a surprise!!

13 Bobfshed December 13, 2013 at 4:30 PM

This notice is not accurate! Winter air pollution is not mainly caused by wood smoke. They shoud at least try to be truthful!

14 Concordejet December 13, 2013 at 4:33 PM

7 days in the ROW already STOP IT residents are working hard to cut down the power bill and you wanna screw the holidays up

15 Elwood December 13, 2013 at 4:51 PM

I guess I’m the only one to wonder about the correlation between the prominent BAAQMD ad on here and the prominent play given to their decrees.

16 just the Facts? December 13, 2013 at 4:53 PM

According to this site updated at 4pm we are at 21, which is good

17 Howard K Mullins III December 13, 2013 at 4:53 PM

The left don’t believe in holidays they worship government.

18 Petition time December 13, 2013 at 4:56 PM

Someone start a petition against this deprevation of our civil liberties on or whatever site necessary and I will SIGN IT ! It time to let our legislators know this is ridiculous and unnecessary. Shut the refineries in the Bay Area down if our sir quality is so bad!!! Move them to desalinate areas of California so they don’t ruin our air and cause the little fireplaces users to be targeted as the bad guys. ENOUGH ALREADY!

19 PG&E Employee December 13, 2013 at 5:04 PM

For those of you that think you’re saving money buy having a fire, you really aren’t.

First of all, the fire doesn’t heat the entire house like central heating does.

Secondly, the wood probably cost more than it would to have the heater on. If you’re getting free wood, perhaps you’re saving “a little.”

Turning the heater on to take the chill out is very helpful. So is warmer clothing and blankets.

When I first started working at PG&E (over 25 years ago), I remember customers calling and complaining “they weren’t saving money by having a fire.”

I no longer answer phones, but customer service still gets those call.

If you could find an alternative to central AC in the summer, that would save you a lot of money. Central AC is VERY EXPENSIVE.

Running the heater in the Bay Area costs very little. Perhaps your appliances aren’t energy efficient, and it costing you elsewhere.

Maybe you could benefit from an energy audit. PG&E might be able to help you save money throughout your home.

20 . December 13, 2013 at 5:15 PM

Ya know that those idiots you elected put that bureaucracy into place.

Thanks. How about taking the blame yourself?

21 Bobfshed December 13, 2013 at 5:21 PM

We know that PG&E gets some of their natural gas from a process called fraking. The amount of environmental damaged caused by this alone makes natural gas a non viable option.

22 OhYeah? December 13, 2013 at 5:22 PM

That defiance is a symptom of the dementia caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain which is what you get if you don’t have a window open when entertaining an open flame.

23 Bobfshed December 13, 2013 at 5:32 PM

Another source of your electricity and home heating.

Natural gas power plants are significant air pollution sources, releasing hazardous air pollutants, global warming pollution and fine particulate matter.

Natural gas is worse than coal for global warming

While the smokestack emissions from gas-burning power plants are lower than coal, gas is worse because of the leakage from the wells to the pipelines and compressor stations to the end-uses — since methane (the principle component of natural gas) is far more potent at heating the atmosphere than carbon dioxide (which is produced when coal or gas are burned).

24 Yuk December 13, 2013 at 5:34 PM

I flew in from Dallas today. The air quality was terrible from Texas to the Bay Area. I went over El Paso, through Phoenix, over Riverside and up the central valley. Texas was bad, but the LA basin and the Bay Area we’re the worst. It looked disgusting from 30,000 feet.

Flying low over the bay, I could tell there was no breeze. You could water ski on the bay it was so smooth. We won’t see relief from this until the weather pattern changes.

25 Anon December 13, 2013 at 6:05 PM

#19, You forgot your disclaimer. Are you a PG&E media representative or spokesperson? I would tread lightly if I were you.

26 Mitch December 13, 2013 at 6:08 PM

@ PG&E Employee…….19

I totally agree. I wish there was an alternative to cranking my AC in the summer. My bill is over $150 extra with the AC on.

Running the heater costs maybe $10-12 more a mth., and our home is 2250 sq. ft. I would definitely cost me more to buy wood.

This is CA, and it doesn’t get that cold here. Put on warmer clothing, and grab a blanket!

27 Larry December 13, 2013 at 7:16 PM

I would just be happy with my freedom of choice to be restored.

28 @Mitch December 13, 2013 at 7:28 PM

“I wish there was an alternative to cranking my AC in the summer.”
There certainly is an alternative, it’s called an evaporative cooler or swamp cooler. Growing up that’s all we had and it worked just fine for a 2 story, 5 bedroom house up in Pittsburg. There were maybe 4 – 5 days in a summer when it got warm in the house, rest of the time it worked just fine. Still remember pausing in front of it when I’d get home from school. They work well in CA.

29 @Mitch December 13, 2013 at 7:34 PM

If BAAQMD were smart they’d those with certified EPA units to operate them while traditional fireplaces would not be able to be used. Would be an incentive for people to upgrade. In the process economy would be stimulated via sales and installations an biggest plus old polluting fireplaces would be taken out of service improving air quality on the non spare the air days.

30 Anonymous December 13, 2013 at 7:56 PM

There is some bad policy mixed into the ban. If anywhere in the district is forcast to be over the limit, they ban fireplaces for the whole District.

PG&E guy is wrong about wood burning stoves. I scrounge the wood for free and generally heat the whole house with it and save a lot compared to PG&E s gas prices.

31 Elwood December 13, 2013 at 8:00 PM

@ Bobfshed #23

Got any documentation for all that?

32 Bobfshed December 13, 2013 at 8:16 PM

Google! You will find it. Start with Fraking. One of the processes used to get Natural Gas. Then look up pollution from natural gas power plants.

33 Bobfshed December 13, 2013 at 8:18 PM

Sorry, Fracking!

34 Bobfshed December 13, 2013 at 8:31 PM

There are two choices to heat your home. Either you burn petroleum or when you can you burn wood.

35 Silva December 13, 2013 at 8:46 PM

We should not be fracking. Anybody without a vested interest in it would understand.

36 Mike T December 13, 2013 at 8:48 PM

I agree with # 28, a swamp cooler. That is all I have ever had in my home, and I would not trade it for central AC. It uses very little energy , and keeps my 1900 sq. ft. home very comfortable. There are bigger units for bigger homes, and worth every penny!

37 @ Yuk December 13, 2013 at 9:03 PM

Oh obnoxious righteous one, did it ever dawn on you that the big industrial bird you flew in on over all those polluted areas are part of the problem? No, of course not.

38 Safety Second December 13, 2013 at 10:14 PM

Need to find out where all these BAAQMD employees live and micromanage their lifestyles by posting their indiscretions…..including photos. Guaranteed, these slobs don’t walk the walk.

39 Elwood December 13, 2013 at 11:08 PM

@ Bobfshed #32

You’re the one who posted all that ****.

So you’re the one who should provide links to all your assertions.

I would particularly enjoy your proving that coal is cleaner than NG.

And please expand on your assertion that fracking adds methane to the atmosphere.

What percentage of methane in the atmosphere is caused by the compression and transmission of NG?

And won’t you please comment on how the millions of us who heat our homes and water and dry our clothes with NG are destroying the atmosphere?

40 @ Elwood December 13, 2013 at 11:30 PM

Just from a common sense level, kind of ironic that places where there never used to be earthquakes are suddenly experiencing them. And this is where fracking is occurring. Hmmmmm. Doesn’t take a scientist…..

41 @#19 December 13, 2013 at 11:36 PM

You’re assuming that people are using a regular fireplace. If you’re using an EPA certified stove or insert (70-80% efficient) and getting your wood somewhere in the neighborhood of $200 or less per cord- you are saving money. The are many calculators on the internet that allow you to plug different energy costs and efficiencies in and then see the cost per usable BTU. Wood is certainly cheaper than natural gas if you do it right.

You’re also assuming everyone has access to natural gas in the Bay Area. We don’t have access to natural gas and more people than you think do not. Propane is over double the cost of natural gas per BTU and electricity is even worse. Wood can be a clean and cost-effective heat solution and reduces our dependency on foreign oil. Natural gas is good, but we don’t have it.

42 Yuk December 14, 2013 at 8:04 AM

@Yuk #37 -

Your level of intellect is typical of so many on this thread. Please pull your head out of your ass and carefully read what I wrote. I never attributed the poor air quality to wood smoke. In fact, if you had the reading comprehension of a 5th grader, you would have realized I never stated why the air was filthy. I stated what I saw from the window of the plane; bad air quality across the southwest and west coast. How does that make me obnoxious and righteous???

It doesn’t take a giant intellectual leap to realize there are many sources of air pollution. Not only does that include the jet I flew in, but also the car i drove in from the airport to my home. Please stand corrected – I am aware that the big industrial (odd choice of a word. Did you mean “mechanical”?) bird does pollute the air.

I suggest you complete your high school education and take a few night classes at DVC before you post further comments on this blog.

43 Bobfshed December 14, 2013 at 10:47 AM

Since you use petroleum to heat your home one would think that you would educate yourself to the effects of that use. I included just one site for you so that you can start to understand that using petroleum to heat your home is not as clean as you think.
Both coal and natural gas have their own sets of issues. Could depend on which you think will end up doing the most harm. Both non-renewable.
Since I gave you one now look up Fracking in California.

44 Bobfshed December 14, 2013 at 11:00 AM
45 Bobfshed December 14, 2013 at 12:31 PM

Tomorrow there will be a football game in Oakland. Thousands of people with BBQ’s, driving trucks and RV’s ……. Burning whatever they want! I suggest everyone go stand at the gates with signs telling them it s a spare the air day,especially the BAAQMD! They could walk through the parking lot and hand out leaflets.

46 Silva December 14, 2013 at 12:32 PM

@bobfshd; thanks for the links. awesome!

47 #19 December 14, 2013 at 1:38 PM

Like what #40 said

Not all people go out and buy their firewood for those ridiculous prices. When you actually work to procure firewood from around the neighbor hood, it saves you a lot of money. And having to use the heater, if you even have a natural gas heater, puts some people in a very tight financial situation when it is incredibly cold out.

Also, the spare the air program is really just a gimmick for these people in a non government agency to make money. The fines that are collected from those that still burn only go to line STA’s employees pockets.
And also, how do the STA employees go around and find violators of STA days, by driving around, thus creating more pollution. STA is just ridiculous.

48 Elwood December 14, 2013 at 2:29 PM

@ @ Elwood #40

Won’t you please provide us with the dates, locations and Richter numbers of these earthquakes and their proximity to fracking operations?

49 Elwood December 14, 2013 at 2:33 PM

@ Bobfshed #43


an oily, thick, flammable, usually dark-colored liquid that is a form of bitumen or a mixture of various hydrocarbons, occurring naturally in various parts of the world and commonly obtained by drilling: used in a natural or refined state as fuel, or separated by distillation into gasoline, naphtha, benzene, kerosene, paraffin, etc. –

You’re an idiot.

50 . December 14, 2013 at 5:12 PM


I’d have less of an issue if the source were something other than what was posted here. At least huffpo has some source, as opposed to what a community organizer is pushing.

51 Elwood December 14, 2013 at 5:57 PM

Huffy Post and Energy Justice!

Thanks for the laughs!

52 Phillip December 14, 2013 at 7:38 PM

How about the raw information on fracking vs coal vs natural gas, instead of some third party spin on the subject? Energy Justice ain’t exactly the most objective source out there….and neither is huffpo.

Everyone has an opinion …but I prefer the facts before making a decision.

53 will December 14, 2013 at 11:08 PM

Does anyone know how much Jack Broadbent or his senior staff are getting paid? I find it impossible to get that information readily. How much does their department get paid to tell us that the air is a little hazy?

54 @Phillip December 14, 2013 at 11:53 PM

I presume you are also a smoker who didn’t think anything could possible be wrong with inhaling chemical laced tobacco until the “facts ” came about showing they cause lung cancer, birth defects, etc

Just sayin’

55 will December 15, 2013 at 9:08 AM

In 2012 Jack Broadbent, Exec Officer of BAAQMD, received base compensation of $258,970 plus $21,000 in other lump sum payments.

56 Tom December 17, 2013 at 4:46 PM

This whole STA is just another way of government trying to run your life. We are not sheep. Its what made this nation. Stand up for your rights. Humans been burning wood for thousands of years. I am not about to stop now because some guy driving a preis tells me to

57 @ Tom December 18, 2013 at 5:51 PM

Yeah thats exactly what I say, lets hear these guys try and tell me what to do over the sound of my loud truck engine.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: