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A burn ban starts at 4 p.m. today (Friday, Feb. 10, 2012) in Okanogan County, according to the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology).
Ecology's Stage 1 burn ban for Okanogan County will continue until at least 10 a.m. Tuesday (Feb. 14), when it could be called off or extended. The Stage 1 ban applies to unnecessary use of uncertified wood-burning devices (including wood stoves, inserts and fireplaces) and to all outdoor burning.
Ecology's burn bans do not apply on tribal reservations, where the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has jurisdiction.
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 a Stage 1 ban:
* Use of uncertified wood-burning devices - including fireplaces, wood stoves and inserts - is prohibited unless they are a home's only source of heat. Uncertified units typically were built before 1990 and lack a certification label on the back of the unit.
* All outdoor burning - including residential, agricultural and forest burning - is prohibited.
* Use of certified wood-burning devices and pellet stoves is allowed. Ecology recommends burning hot fires using only clean, dry wood.
* No excessive smoke is allowed from any wood-burning device beyond a 20-minute start-up.
Burn ban violators are subject to civil penalties.
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. (http://www.ecy.wa.gov/biblio/0902021.html)
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