Sunday, December 25, 2022

The Air District is extending the Spare the Air Alert through Monday, December 26, which bans burning wood, manufactured fire logs or any other solid fuel, both indoors and outdoors. Cold overnight temperatures, stagnant air, patchy dense fog, and a high-pressure system over the region is allowing wood smoke pollution to continue to build up over the region. Concurrently, offshore winds transporting additional pollution from the Central Valley is continuing to cause unhealthy air quality in the Bay Area. 

Spare the Air Status

It is illegal for Bay Area residents and businesses to use their fireplaces, wood stoves, pellet stoves, outdoor fire pits or any other wood-burning devices during a Spare the Air Alert for fine particle pollution. Exemptions are available for homes without permanently installed heating, where wood stoves or fireplaces are the only source of heat. Anyone whose sole source of heat is a wood-burning device must use an EPA-certified or pellet-fueled device that is registered with the Air District to qualify for an exemption. An open-hearth fireplace no longer qualifies for an exemption.

Like cigarette or wildfire smoke, wood smoke contains carcinogenic substances, such as particulate matter and carbon monoxide, which are harmful when inhaled. Exposure to wood smoke has been linked to serious respiratory illnesses and increased risk of heart attacks. The fine particulate pollution in wood smoke is especially harmful for children, the elderly and those with respiratory conditions.

Low temperatures and calm winds trap smoke from wood burning around homes and increases fine particulate pollution buildup. Natural gas, propane or electric fireplaces are allowed during Spare the Air Alerts.

The Air District may call Spare the Air Alerts for fine particle pollution up to three days in advance to prevent air pollution from exceeding federal standards. During an alert, the use of wood burning devices such as fireplaces, pellet stoves, wood stoves and outdoor fire pits is illegal. In San Francisco, the National Park Service also prohibits recreational beach fires at Ocean Beach in Golden Gate National Recreation Area through the end of February.

Bay Area residents can find out if a Spare the Air Alert is in effect by:

  • Signing up for text alerts. To sign up, text the word “START” to the number 817-57
  • Calling 1-877-4NO-BURN
  • Visiting or
  • Signing up for automatic e-mail AirAlerts at
  • Signing up for automatic phone alerts at
  • Downloading the Spare the Air iPhone or Android app

First-time violators of the Wood Burning Rule are encouraged to take a wood smoke awareness course to learn more about the health impacts from wood smoke and the weather conditions that lead to unhealthy air quality in the winter. Those violators who choose not to take the course will receive a $100 ticket. Second violations are subject to a $500 ticket, with the ticket amount increasing for any subsequent violations.

There are also prohibitions on excessive smoke and burning garbage and other harmful materials like junk mail, plastic, wood pallets and more in fireplaces and wood stoves. Residents concerned about wood smoke pollution may call 1-877-4NO-BURN or visit to file a complaint or to get more information.

Check the Air District's air quality readings.

View EPA Fire and Smoke Map.

View Wood Smoke Pollution page.

View press release.


Last Updated: 12/25/2022