Spare the Air Alert Issued for Tuesday Dec. 31 (New Year’s Eve)

December 30, 2013 15:42 pm · 53 comments


New Year’s Eve will be another Winter Spare the Air day, so those planning to pop open a bottle of Champagne next to a roaring fire may have to settle for a few candles instead.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District issued the Spare the Air alert because of continuing dry, stagnant weather that has allowed unhealthy particulate matter to accumulate close to the ground.

But while Bay Area fireplaces remain dark in the name of clean air, fireworks will still be shot off over the Bay because the Winter Spare the Air alert doesn’t apply to them.

The annual New Year’s Eve fireworks show in San Francisco is expected to draw thousands to the city’s northern waterfront.

“It’s unfortunate that this may be a bad air quality day,” air district spokesman Aaron Richardson said.

He said that the ban specifically targets wood-burning fireplaces because that is where much of the region’s air pollution comes from during the winter months. Fireworks displays occur just a few times a year, he said.

Richardson said there may be a weather system arriving in the coming days that would sweep away some of the accumulated pollution.

“We’re hoping that toward the end of the week we’ll get some flushing out of the air,” he said.

On Winter Spare the Air days, the burning of wood, manufactured fire logs and other solid fuels is banned indoors and outdoors. Households that depend on wood burning as their sole source of heat are exempt from the ban.

The aim of the ban is to preserve air quality and protect those vulnerable to pollution-related health problems such as children, the elderly and those with respiratory problems.

Those found to be in violation of the ban will have to pay $100 or take a wood-smoke awareness class. Second offenses are met with a $500 fine, and the cost goes up for subsequent violations.

Winter Spare the Air season ends Feb. 28. The daily burn status can be found on the air district’s web site at or by calling (800) 4-NO-BURN.


1 meh December 30, 2013 at 3:48 PM


2 jtkatec December 30, 2013 at 3:50 PM

No lighting up those doobies for the New Year

3 jtkatec December 30, 2013 at 3:52 PM

Isn’t this duplication with CalFire? Now I want CCCFD to issue their own proclamation.

4 Burnin December 30, 2013 at 4:22 PM

When the winter spare the air program started the BAAQMD said 33% of PM2.5 was from wood smoke. They said their program had reduced wood smoke by 25%. That gives us 25% from wood smoke? Now we have to subtract out wood smoke from restaurants, brush fires, controlled burns, structural fires, forest fires, agricultural fires and smoke from wood used in BBQ’s.
You probably do not want to believe this but wood smoke from heating homes is 10% or less!
Smoke from other sources. They can still burn with a special permit.

State fire officials have issued a ban on all open burning in parts of the East Bay and South Bay due to dry conditions and increased fire danger.

The burn ban, which starts today, covers Contra Costa, Alameda, Santa Clara, San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties, as well as portions of Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The counties covered by the ban are experiencing record-breaking low rainfall, low humidity, dry fuel moisture levels and increased fire activity, according to Cal Fire Division Chief Rich Sampson.

Special permits will be required for agriculture, land management, fire training and other industrial-type burning, and camp fires are allowed in designated campgrounds or in designated facilities on private property.

5 concord resident December 30, 2013 at 4:24 PM


6 . December 30, 2013 at 4:25 PM

Well after all it IS coming up to a Holiday.

7 Ian December 30, 2013 at 5:25 PM


8 All the usual children saying "we'll burn if we want to" December 30, 2013 at 5:58 PM


9 burn baby December 30, 2013 at 5:59 PM

No and no again. Go ahead mister wister, start calling us names. You know you can’t help it.

10 the other jj December 30, 2013 at 6:11 PM


11 Schmee December 30, 2013 at 6:33 PM

They might as well just announce the says u are allowed to burn. Save their breath

12 Dr. Jellyfinger December 30, 2013 at 6:50 PM

Spare the Air Day? Whoa…. I didn’t see that coming.

13 Anthropomorphized December 30, 2013 at 6:54 PM

I worry about silent flying drones overhead, pointing infrared thermometers with laser sighting at chimneys they locate using the signals from smart meters.

People who deny the existence of these drones may actually be drones.

14 Maybe December 30, 2013 at 7:02 PM

Wind pattern predictions for onshore flow late Tues. resuming on 01 Jan. ? ?

15 KenInConcord December 30, 2013 at 7:03 PM

It’s a fact that 85.4% of all statistics are made up in order to emphasize the persons point.

Why would BAAQM be any different!


16 Smoky Joe December 30, 2013 at 7:15 PM

Ill be smokin ribs as usual on these days….. Need to get some more recipes though as I’m running out of ideas.

17 anonymous December 30, 2013 at 7:15 PM

Good a groups of comments I have seen. Fortunately we have managed to do this without the Phantom.

18 Jerk December 30, 2013 at 7:44 PM

Wood burning ban today, Tomorrow Natural Gas ban – that’s right you’ll be allotted a certain amount of time per day to run your heater.
You thought it was going to stop at wood, Don’t be silly.

19 burn baby December 30, 2013 at 8:03 PM

Mister wister where are you? Don’t you have anything to say?

20 Just sayin December 30, 2013 at 8:07 PM


Days remaining: 60

21 JLG December 30, 2013 at 8:22 PM

Spare the Air Alert Issued for to many day. No rain in sight. Maybe we have a more serious problem than just having a fire.

22 What_Else_Is_NewS December 30, 2013 at 8:28 PM

If I had a fire place i’d break the law just to piss off those lame ass spare the air f—ers!!!. lol

23 BAAQMD = Jack Booted Thugs December 30, 2013 at 8:35 PM

What happens when Jack Broadbent decides he doesn’t like your religion?

24 anonymous December 30, 2013 at 8:50 PM

Thats the spirit poster #23 Call em Jack booted thugs, or maybe , even better Gestapos or Stasi or KGB. Something over the top.


25 DanMtz December 30, 2013 at 9:00 PM

Start doing your rain dance.

26 Ted K., SuperMax December 30, 2013 at 9:16 PM

I’ve been burning for the past week waiting for the BAAQMD to show up. It goes to show how effective they are.

Suck it.

27 Kenny December 30, 2013 at 9:41 PM

The best part of spare the air days are the comments on Claycord!

28 Burnin December 30, 2013 at 10:19 PM

STAD tomorrow, however they will be burning all kinds of sulfur and other toxins over SF. I guess they don’t care about people with breathing problems!

29 NotPC December 30, 2013 at 10:20 PM

It’s always funny to go outside on STA days and notice the sweet, homey smell of wood burning in fireplaces all over Concord, Walnut Creek and Martinez. And I have COPD and have had since 1992 and experience NO problems with wood smoke. (But then – I use the rotohaler the doc says to use) Also, I am alergic to my cat. (I love her to much to let that come between us)

I think this is all about pleasing some who think they have some miniscule amount of power. They can suck it.

30 idiot hater December 30, 2013 at 10:21 PM

Gas Insert… best investment I made.

31 Burnin December 30, 2013 at 10:56 PM

Some critics say, however, that natural gas isn’t as clean as it seems. Some scientists say that even though natural gas burns more cleanly than other fossil fuels, a significant amount of methane escapes into the atmosphere from natural gas wells and pipelines. Methane is one of the major greenhouse gases that trap heat in the earth’s atmosphere. Newer methods of mining natural gas from harder rocks and deeper deposits are controversial, especially hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. In fracking, high pressure is used to force fluids underground to break shale rocks and get deep deposits of natural gas. Critics say the process emits methane and pollutes water supplies.

32 eyewhen December 30, 2013 at 11:36 PM

@ NotPC: right on, I love that wood burning smell too!, To those on here championing for their side: when will you realize there are hundreds of others who could care less about the debate and the drama and burn freely in their homes? But more then that I would like to know: if we are ignoring you extremest (most all of you repeat posters) why do you still sit over here in the corner whining? Just join the masses in the middle and do whatever works for you and stop sweating this small stuff!!

33 JRConcord December 31, 2013 at 7:44 AM

I saw chimney smoking on xxxx ave yesterday. I did not call and report it.
Am I part of the problem now?
Do you snitch on your neighbors?
Who are you?
Peace and love

34 The Mamba December 31, 2013 at 8:06 AM

What if not having fires all winter is the reason why it hasn’t rained? BAAQMD has messed up the natural order of things!

35 Fireworks pollution is apparently ok! December 31, 2013 at 8:17 AM

“He said that the ban specifically targets wood-burning fireplaces because that is where much of the region’s air pollution comes from during the winter months. Fireworks displays occur just a few times a year, he said.”

Wow, exuses to let the fireworks show go on but no one is allowed to warm their homes. I love his attempt to explain how these priorities are handled!

36 Incognito December 31, 2013 at 8:19 AM

@ JRConcord #33
Saturday the 30th was NOT a spare the air day. So, if you saw a smoking chimney yesterday, they were within their rights to burn. So, I am happy to hear you did not report them.

So, on that note, for those who do plan on snitching on their neighbors, be sure and have your information correct, because you know what ASSUME means.

37 Whatever December 31, 2013 at 8:27 AM

@JRconcord yesterday was NOT a STAD. Don’t be a rat, especially if YOU don’t know when there is or is not a STAD. Learn how the ban works. But don’t be a snitch most of all about a fire in a fireplace. Heck, they may not have central heat which makes them exempt from the ban, and you would the one giving them an undue and expensive fine.

38 We Need Lobbyists! December 31, 2013 at 8:47 AM

We need a powerful ‘Fire Burners Lobby’. This lobby would create messaging around the virtues of sustainable home heating source that is FIREWOOD! We spin it into a ‘green’ initiative. Make people feel guilty for not supporting us.
We’d put BAAQMD on their heels and they would find another target to justify their existence. Face it, they don’t go after the refineries, airports, ports etc., because those industries have powerful lobbys/attorneys. Guess what, those industries do nothing different on a STAD then any other day….. while BAAQMD is looking for a couple homeowners burning a piece of oak….

39 Burnin December 31, 2013 at 9:27 AM

It hasn’t rained because we burn to much petroleum products and natural gas.

40 Facts December 31, 2013 at 9:29 AM

Well get ready for another one tomorrow!

Looks like there might be a break as those who have been allowed to burn are now being told NO. Yes Cal-Fire has announced a no burn alert for all of the unincorporated areas in CCC and the surrounding Counties as well even San Joaquin and Stanislaus. This is agriculture burning and seems to be exempt from the BAAQMD rules. WHY??? Burning wood products is burning wood products especially if they (BAAQMD) will not let you burn in EPA approved LOW emission devices. You know the ones that produce the same type and amount of pollution as GAS furnaces!

Guess we might know where all the particulate matter THEY talk about is coming from now. This type of burning goes on EVERY winter. How come they have not found a way to regulate/control/change it?? Why, BIG business that is why. Easier to control small people than buck big business.

Think people or become sheeple.

41 Gas Logs December 31, 2013 at 9:42 AM

Converted our wood-burning fireplace to gas logs. Best move ever! For years, without fail, every holiday there was a STA day. Love to have a fire with all the family over. Now we have a nice fire whenever we want.

42 Too much power December 31, 2013 at 11:02 AM

@we need a lobbyist what we need is to stop electing ppl who then go to this board and think this stuff makes a difference. Stop electing ppl who do what THEY want instead of what we the people want them to do. Clearly, like in D.C., the local elected (and appointed) officials have forgotten they are supposed to be working FOR US not the other way around. These STADs are just an exercise in their power not anything else.

43 Natural gas toxins December 31, 2013 at 11:49 AM
44 Sheila December 31, 2013 at 11:50 AM

It’s nice enough outside….who needs a fire?

45 Bobfshed December 31, 2013 at 1:34 PM

The people who need fires are just like the people turning on their heaters today.

46 Bobfshed December 31, 2013 at 1:45 PM

The BAAQMD is responsible for the air problems we are experiencing in the Bay Area. They duped everyone, including the media that the problem with winter time pollution was from heating our homes with wood. Well, that was just a lie! Yet, there are those who will cling to that belief while the BAAQMD let’s the real polluters continue to do whatever they want. If you believe that the problem with Bay Area air is from people heating their homes with wood then you are just what their looking for to push their agenda. Pretending to be cleaning the air while supporting activities and corporations that pollute.

47 JRConcord December 31, 2013 at 3:32 PM

#36 and 37
I Was asking a question facetiously.(notice I omitted street name)
I was pretty stoned this am and was trying to be funny. Sorry, Please step back with your pitchforks and unbunch your panties. Dont call me names and hurt my feeling. :-(
Peace and Love.
P.S. The fire ws going today too……….
PSS According to my son I am not funny. (V)

48 libertarian gal December 31, 2013 at 6:53 PM

so awesome to hear comments from reasoning people. yes this STA is political and aimmed at citizens rather than industry, a big pollution source. in fact the generation of electricity is #2 pollutor in winter and diesel transportation/ autos #1 in summer but nothing targets a resolution in that area. its convenient for the BAAQMD to forget that many of us cant afford $200 pge bills and so try to offset with cords of wood. my house has been 55 degrees overnight without heating. wtf? kudos for questioning y the pyrotechnics r acceptable but not to heat our homes. Who regulates this way? Polititians, EcoNazis, and sellouts to large utility/industry=that s who! Hey Claycordians …Stay Warm while being COOL. Dont snitchout and sellout your neighbors! BAAQMD is advanced by the division created from reporting others…in this economy it should be a moral imperative to stick together…like feeding the hungry, and caring for the sick…keeping warm by fire has a longer history than BAAQMDickstrict. is true that natural gas is a petroleum product..mined right next to the fuel oil. seems like hydrogen fuel systems r the cleanest…like Bush II was promoting but Media and hired “scientists” would not confirm then. politics is a dirty word. happy new yr all!

49 libertarian gal December 31, 2013 at 7:09 PM

oh and i read somewhere that running oir furnaces, a/c, stoves, etc creates indoor pollutants….so the problem hits home in an even more egregeous way if what i read and understood is accurate. Anyone out there in the know to confirm or clarify the issue of indoor air quality? stoners need not respond…it goes without saying that medicinal mj ought b exempt. heck, if there was a substitution policy …wood for weed…i doubt i would b so critical of BAAQMaryJ Dickstrict policies :-)

50 libertarian gal December 31, 2013 at 7:17 PM

oh and i read somewhere that running home furnaces, a/c, stoves, etc creates indoor pollutants….so the problem hits home in an even more egregeous way if what i read and understood is true and credible. Is there a Claycordian expert out there able to confirm or clarify the issue of indoor air quality? the flatulent or stoners need not respond…it goes without saying that medicinal mj ought b exempt. heck, if there was a substitution policy …wood for weed…i doubt i would b so critical of BAAQMaryJ Dickstrict policies :-) Methane …well u know the mad cow crisis failed..and i believe Beano and Flatu_Aid funding have bipartisan support ..ha ha.

51 john Ritter January 7, 2014 at 10:24 AM

What a surprise!!. The bay area quality air is back to normal right after the holidays. The air is always bad during the Christmas holidays and magically goes back to normal levels after the holidays are over. It must be Santa’s sledge. BAAQM are nothing but a bunch of crooks like the rest of the politicians and they are in bed with PG&E and the fireplace lobby detemined to switch all wood fireplaces to gas ones. I will predict the air quality wiil be really bad next Christmas and it will improved after new years.

52 john Ritter January 7, 2014 at 10:32 AM

How come camping wood fires (which are more numerous than fireplace burning and some of them cause big fires) are not banned to save the air? Easy, because no one benefits (meaning companies or goverment crookie agencies) banning them.

53 john Ritter January 7, 2014 at 10:40 AM

Ho, Ho, Ho. Miracle in the bay area. The bay area quality air has gone from being worst than in China, as some TV stations claimed to back BAAQM and their ban on burning, to miracolously back to moderate levels. And it’s being happening like this for the last years. Always bad for the Cristmas holidays and after new years the miracle happens. Don’t tell there isn’t one single journalist capable to investigate these lies and put aways this crooks from BAAQM.

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