DIAMOND BAR (CBSLA.com) —The South Coast Air Quality Management District Friday approved a plan to allow fire pits along Southland beaches, although certain restrictions will be in effect.

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The AQMD voted 7-6 to allow beach fire rings, as long as they are at least 700 feet away from the nearest residence and at least 100 feet apart. If the city has 15 or fewer pits, they have to be at least 50 feet apart.

The plan includes pilot programs for bonfires powered by natural or propane gas instead of wood, and there are restrictions for burning on high-pollution days.

“It does not jeopardize the existence or the use of the fire pits,” AQMD board member Josie Gonzales told City News Service. “And it is imperative that protecting the public health be a priority beyond being popular.”

The issue has generated heat the past couple of months after Newport Beach officials requested a ban on bonfires after residents complained of health concerns. Officials withdrew their application last week after it appeared the Coastal Commission would block the city’s effort to remove 60 rings in Corona del Mar and the Balboa Peninsula.

Under the new restrictions, the 60 rings will be required to be removed because they are too close to residences, officials said. About 30 rings will be removed from Huntington Beach, as they are within 700 feet of a mobile home park.

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Newport Beach is allowed to install 10 clean-fueled fire rings, which must be approved by the city council.

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