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Air quality burn ban lifted for King County

The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency lifted the air quality burn ban for King County, effective at 1 p.m. today.

A Stage 1 burn ban continues in Pierce and Snohomish counties until further notice. The purpose of a burn ban is to reduce the amount of pollution that is creating unhealthy air, usually due to excessive wood smoke.

"We're lifting the ban in King County because air pollution levels there have improved," said Dr. Phil Swartzendruber, agency forecaster. "Based on historic patterns, it's unlikely they'll reach trigger levels in the next few days."

Burn ban enforcement has significantly increased in the Tacoma-Pierce County Smoke Reduction Zone. Wood burning during a ban may result in a fine, with fines in the past reaching $1,000. Increased enforcement and night patrols will increase the likelihood of violators receiving substantial fines this season.

During a Stage 1 burn ban:

• No burning is allowed in fireplaces or uncertified wood stoves. Residents should rely instead on their home's other, cleaner source of heat (such as their furnace or electric baseboard heaters) for a few days until air quality improves, the public health risk diminishes and the ban is cancelled.

• No outdoor fires are allowed. This includes recreational fires such as bonfires, campfires and the use of fire pits and chimineas.

• Burn ban violations are subject to a $1,000 penalty.

It is OK to use natural gas, propane, pellet and EPA-certified wood stoves or inserts during a Stage 1 burn ban.

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