Winter Spare the Air alert issued for Monday

A Spare the Air alert has been issued for Monday in the San Francisco Bay Area, officials with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District said today.

The alert, which is the 19th for the winter Spare the Air season, means that the use of wood-burning devices is prohibited for 24 hours.

The winter Spare the Air season ends Feb. 28.

Banned is the burning of wood, manufactured fire logs or any other solid fuel either indoors or outdoors.

Air quality officials said a high-pressure system is over the Bay Area and is expected to trap smoke near the ground, making the air unhealthy.

Also, pollution from wood smoke is going to accumulate in the area because of a strengthening temperature inversion.

Under the alert it is illegal for residents and businesses to use fireplaces, woodstoves, pellet stoves, outdoor fire pits or any other wood-burning device.

An exemption is available for homeowners without permanently installed heat, where a fireplace or woodstove is the only heat source.

But the wood-burning device must be an Environmental Protection Agency-certified or pellet-fueled device that is registered with the air district.

Air district officials said an open-hearth fireplace no longer qualifies for an exemption.

Wood smoke is the major source of air pollution in the Bay Area in the winter. Wood smoke is especially harmful to the elderly, children and people with respiratory illnesses.

The first time someone violates the ban they can pay a $100 fine or take a wood smoke awareness class, online or by mail.

Second violations cost $500 and subsequent violations cost more.