More burn bans issued as air pollution levels rise in W. Wash.

SEATTLE - Burn bans have been issued in four Western Washington counties as cold, stagnant weather conditions persist in the Puget Sound lowlands.

A Stage 2 burn ban - which prohibits use of woodstoves, pellet stoves or fireplaces - takes effect at noon Sunday in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. A Stage 2 ban also took effect at 10 a.m. Sunday in Thurston County.

The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency says the bans were triggered by rising air pollution levels. The bans are in effect until further notice.

During a Stage 2 burn ban:

No burning is allowed in any wood-burning fireplaces, wood stoves or fireplace inserts (certified or uncertified) or pellet stoves.

Residents should rely instead on their home's other, cleaner source of heat (such as their furnace or electric baseboard heaters) for a few days until air quality improves, the public health risk diminishes and the ban is cancelled. The only exception is if a wood stove is a home's only adequate source of heat.

No outdoor fires are allowed. This includes recreational fires such as bonfires, campfires and the use of fire pits and chimineas. The Seattle Parks Department also specifically prohibits beach fires at Alki and Golden Gardens during the burn ban.

Burn ban violations are subject to a $1,000 penalty.

It is OK to use natural gas and propane stoves or inserts during a Stage 2 burn ban.

The Washington State Department of Health recommends that people who are sensitive to air pollution limit time spent outdoors, especially when exercising. Air pollution can trigger asthma attacks, cause difficulty breathing, and make lung and heart problems worse.

Air pollution is especially harmful to people with lung and heart problems, people with diabetes, children, and older adults (over age 65).