November 1 marks the start of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District's "Check Before You Burn Program".
It's an effort to restrict burning wood and pellets in home stoves, fireplaces and outdoor devices. The program is in effect until the end of February here in the south valley to spare our winter air. That's because, when high pressure builds overhead, we get sinking air, and that traps all the pollution from smog and smoke down here where we breathe. So each day the Air District will release a notice on the burning regulation, which we'll relay to you in our daily forecast here on our 23ABC weather page.
Here's what you can expect for the season ahead...
We have the cleanest air here in the valley during a storm and the day after. On those days, the ranking will be "no restrictions, burning discouraged". When you are told to "burn cleanly," that means using clean, seasoned and dry firewood or manufactured logs like the Duraflame brand. The Air District says "never burn trash, magazines, newspapers, plastics or other materials not designed to burn in fireplaces or stoves. Doing so is illegal and hazardous."
As our air quality then progressively gets worse, the ranking becomes "no burning unless registered." This applies to homes that have a pellet stove or gas insert that is EPA Phase II certified. To see if you qualify and to apply to register your device, click here.
And finally, the worst ranking, no burning for all. This will come on the days when we have very stable weather under an inversion and any smoke that we send into the air will get stuck here. To request an exemption, click here to fill out a form if you live in a location where natural gas is not available or if your wood burning device is the sole source of heat for your home.