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Some Home Fireplaces Banned During Unusual LA Smog Alert

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Update as of 2 p.m. Sunday: Smog agency officials say the burn ban will move to Riverside Monday where it will remain in effect through midnight.

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Chestnuts roasting on an open fire? Not so fast, buddy!

Smog agency officials have banned some homeowners from burning wood in their fireplaces while LA deals with an unusual smog pattern. (The ban also includes fire pits and manufactured logs.)

Most of the Southland is not affected but the ban is expected to cover parts of the San Fernando Valley, areas of Burbank and downtown Los Angeles.

The 24-hour ban went into effect at midnight Saturday.

The AQMD (short for Air Quality Management District) told reporters that an unusual weather pattern, Santa Ana-type breeze and unseasonal fog will give the Inland Empire squeaky-clean air and leave many residents in the Valley needing night vision goggles.

With the fog, smog and pollution, the AGMD didn’t want to add to bad air quality for the next day. Agency spokesperson Sam Atwood said this is the first time AQMD has issued such an order in our area.

No burn “alerts” are reportedly commonplace in Central and Northern California but this is a Southland first.

Violators of the ban could be fined $50 for a first infraction and up to $500 for repeat offenders.

As Rachel Kim reported for CBS2 and KCAL9, to find out if you are in a banned area, AQMD set up an information website. Enter your zip code on this site, No Burn Alert.

Kim talked to San Fernando Valley resident Kelly Cook who didn’t know about the ban. Cook had just purchased a fire pit on Black Friday. “I’m all for clean air. I can probably hold off.”

As AQMD’s Atwood told Kim, “We have well over 1 million homes that burn wood actively and this creates more particulate pollution than comes from all of the power plants here in Southern California.”

And he maintains the AQMD was most worried about the high particulate levels and their affect on the public’s health. “High levels of particulate pollution can aggravate asthma, bronchitis, those with cardiopulmonary disease.”

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