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Bay Area Residents Reminded To Spare The Winter Air

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) - Monday marked the start of the winter Spare the Air season. Residents were warned not to burn wood on nights when the air quality was deemed unhealthy.

A crackdown was planned for violators.

KCBS' Anna Duckworth Reports:

2010 marked the third year the Bay Area Air Quality Management District intended to penalize violators whenever a winter Spare the Air Alert was issued.

"No manufactured logs, no wood, no outdoor fire pits are allowed either," reminded district spokeswoman Kristin Roselus.

Seven Spare the Air alerts were issued last winter.

"We did have 8 tickets issued last year and they were $400 tickets," she said. "But we're actually seeing very few repeat offenders. So first we send out a warning letter. And then, anybody who violates the rule again will be subject to a $400 ticket."

Air quality officials often relied on neighborhood tipsters. Inspectors also patrolled various communities.

Marin County received the most complaints in 2009, a total of 488.

Winter alerts were typically called on cold, still days when smoke from burning wood had the potential to remain stagnant in the air.

Roselus stressed that the alerts weren't called simply because of concerns about the environment.

"People are really learning that wood burning can be very toxic, and it's especially harmful for the elderly and children, and anybody with a respiratory condition."

The winter Spare the Air season was scheduled through February.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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