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30th 'Spare the Air' Alert Declared for Saturday – Ties Season Record

This season's 30th Spare the Air alert – tying the all-time record for a single season in the Bay Area – has been issued for Saturday by air quality officials because of expected hazardous levels of air pollution.

Fires are banned when the Bay Area Air Quality Management District declares a "Spare the Air" alert.
Fires are banned when the Bay Area Air Quality Management District declares a "Spare the Air" alert.
By David Mills

The 30th Spare the Air alert of the winter season has been declared for Saturday in the Bay, tying the record for most alerts ever issued in one season.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District made the announcement at midday today, Friday, saying a high pressure system is trapping pollutants and causing air pollution to rise to unhealthy levels.

It's the 30th air quality alert in the Bay Area so far this winter season. That ties a record set in 2006 with more than a month left in the season.

Only 10 alerts were issued during the entire winter season last year.

The air district issues alerts also in the summer season, and the most alerts ever issued in summer was 25 in 1996, according to district records.

The Saturday alert prohibits Bay Area residents from burning wood, manufactured fire logs or any other solid fuel both indoors and outdoors for 24 hours. Those with no other source of heat are exempt.

First-time violators of the ban are given the option of taking a wood smoke awareness class or paying a $100 fine. Second violations result in a $500 fine and the penalties rise with each violation after that.

The air quality district has 60 inspectors who follow up on complaints and issue citations.

Charles Burress contributed to this story.

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