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Air quality officials ask residents to avoid wood burning
The air pollution board asks that residents avoid heating their homes by burning wood, if possible. - photo by Photo Contributed

Local air officials are advising San Joaquin Valley residents that conditions are expected to remain cold, dry and stagnant through the middle of next week, causing particulate matter emissions to accumulate, resulting in higher pollution concentrations throughout the Valley air basin. The basin includes the counties of San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare and the Valley portion of Kern.

Strong nighttime inversions and minimal winds are trapping pollutants on the Valley floor.

“Stable conditions like those we are currently experiencing are one of the main challenges the San Joaquin Valley faces during the winter months,” said Jaime Holt, Valley Air District Chief Communications Officer.

“This causes residential wood smoke to stay in your neighborhood, impacting the health of you and your neighbors,” she added.

Residential wood burning is one of the Valley’s largest sources of wintertime PM2.5 emissions and can have a direct effect on neighborhood air quality and public health. The District warns that adherence to the Check Before You Burn Program is critical to prevent air pollution from reaching unhealthy levels and asks that residents avoid heating their homes by burning wood, if possible. Refraining from the use of any outdoor wood burning devices is also urged. This includes fire pits, outdoor fireplaces and chimeneas.

Check Before You Burn runs from Nov. 1 through the end of February every year and provides daily declarations, by county, indicating if wood burning is allowed in the county that day.

Wood burning curtailments do not apply to natural gas devices. Residences in areas with no natural gas service or where burning wood is the sole source of heat are exempt. Areas where propane tanks are used are considered to be without natural gas service. Outdoor wood burning devices at all residences are still subject to daily restrictions, regardless of exemption status.

Daily burn information is available by visiting, by calling 1-800-SMOG INFO (766-4463), or by downloading the free “Valley Air” app on your mobile device.

Valley residents are encouraged to participate in the Burn Cleaner incentive program and receive as much as $3,000 to upgrade from older, high-polluting wood stoves and open-hearth fireplaces to natural gas inserts. To participate in this program please visit