Department of Ecology News Release - December 24, 2012


Burn ban for north central Washington to expire Christmas Day

YAKIMA – A Stage 1 burn ban called for Chelan, Douglas and Okanogan counties will expire at 10 a.m., Dec. 25, 2012, according to the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology). The Stage 1 ban applies to the use of uncertified wood-burning devices (including wood stoves, inserts and fireplaces) and to all outdoor burning. Even though the ban is expiring on Christmas Day, Ecology cautions against burning gift wrapping paper because it can release toxins and heavy metals into the air. The pretty colors of the flames created may be the result of metals such as barium, cadmium and lead. See more information on holiday burning.

Smoke from outdoor burning and wood-burning devices builds up where cold air is trapped near the ground. Fine particles in smoke are so small they can easily get into your lungs. Once there, they can cause heart and breathing problems, and even death. Children, people with asthma and respiratory illnesses, and adults older than 65 are most at risk.

Under the Stage 1 burn ban in effect until 10 a.m. Christmas Day:

Ecology’s burn bans don’t apply on tribal reservations, where the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has jurisdiction.

Burn ban violators are subject to civil penalties. You can report violators by calling Ecology’s smoke complaint hotline (1-866-211-6284).

A 2009 Ecology analysis estimates that fine particles contribute to about 1,100 deaths and about $190 million in health-care costs each year in Washington.

For burn ban updates:

You can track air quality in your area by using the Washington Air Quality Advisory. This is Ecology’s tool for informing people about the health effects of air pollution, including fine particles. It uses color-coded categories to show when air quality is good, moderate or unhealthy.

For more information about Washington Air Quality Advisory, see this Ecology fact sheet.


Media Contact: Dan Partridge, communications manager, 360-407-7139;

See a list of certified wood stoves and other information (

Tips on getting the most heat from your firewood (

Check for Ecology burn bans (

Washington Air Quality Advisory (

WAQA fact sheet (

Ecology analysis of fine particles and health (