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Bay Area under Spare the Air alert for Tuesday

The New Year is beginning much like the old one ended, air-quality wise, with another Spare the Air alert for Tuesday.

That is the 18th alert called by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District for the season that runs from November through February. Bay Area residents who use fireplaces, wood stoves, pellet stoves, outdoor fire pits and other wood burning devices face fines.

Wood smoke exposure has been linked to serious respiratory illnesses, according to the air district. The district calls the Spare the Air alerts when weather conditions tend to keep smoke close to the ground.

“As we enter the New Year, a high-pressure system continues to linger over the Bay Area, potentially causing poor air quality conditions,” district Executive Officer Jack Broadbent said in a press release.

But that high pressure may soon be on its way out. The National Weather Service on Monday predicted a storm system will move into the area on Wednesday, bringing rain.

The 18 Spare the Air alerts called so far this season exceeds the seven called all of last season and the one called in 2015-16. It is in line with the 23 alerts called in 2014-15 and the 30 in 2013-14, records show.

First-time Spare the Air violators can pay a $100 fine or take a wood burning awareness class on-line or by mail. Second-time violators pay a $500 fine. Exemptions are available for homes where wood stoves and fire places are the only source of heat.

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