Barbecues banned again as outdoor burn ban returns

Once again, diminished air quality prompted the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency to ban all outdoor burning in the region Tuesday, after the ban was lifted last week.

The ban is in effect until Friday.

What exactly is banned?

The ban includes charcoal barbecues, fire pits and campfires, as well as field-burning and Native American ceremonial fires outside of tribal lands.

Fires in fireplaces and woodstoves are also prohibited.

What's the purpose of the ban?

“The purpose of the burn ban is to reduce any additional harm to sensitive populations from excess air pollution and is in addition to existing fire safety burn bans,” the agency wrote in a statement.

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Air Quality vs. Fire Safety Burn Bans

Air quality burn bans are issued and enforced by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency when air pollution levels rise to unhealthy levels. Air quality burn bans typically occur during colder fall and winter months.

Fire safety burn bans are issued by the fire marshal when dry weather conditions heighten the risk of wildfires. Fire safety burn bans are generally called during the summer and can last for several months.

Stage 1 vs. Stage 2 bans

The stage 1 burn ban goes into effect at 2 p.m. Tuesday for Pierce, King, Snohomish and Kitsap counties because smoke from British Columbia wildfires has brought unhealthy levels of air pollution.

Stage 1 burn bans are typically based on weather conditions and rising pollution levels. Stage 2 burn bans are called when fine particle pollution levels reach a trigger value set by state law.

About the air quality

According to the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, smoke levels are unhealthy for sensitive groups in some areas but trending downward now, and moderate in most other areas.

Children, those with lung and heart conditions, and older adults should continue to watch the changing forecast and stay indoors and find somewhere cool if you can. May see levels rise again at times until Friday when weather patterns are more favorable. - PSCAA

Anyone sensitive to air pollution should stay inside, the agency says, especially when exercising.