Wood stove burn ban in effect as weather pattern traps smoke

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EUGENE, Ore. - The Eugene/Springfield area is under a residential wood stove burning ban for the first time in over six years because of an air inversion layer that is trapping wood smoke in the southern Willamette valley.

The Lane Regional Air Protection Agency imposed the stage-one, red alert wood burning ban for Eugene, Springfield and Oakridge because a high pressure system is trapping wood-stove smoke and pollution in the valley. As of Monday those using pellet stoves to heat their homes are still in the clear.

Officials say the current levels are well above federal standards. LRAPA spokeswoman Sally Marcos said the particulate readings tend to peak between 10 p.m. and midnight.

"Normally what we'd see is a peak and it would come straight down - but it's not. It's staying up high," said Marcos. "And without any storm systems coming through, the pollution is building up day after day. We're seeing the pollution levels get worse every day."

Marcos said the highest pollution readings were picked up at LRAPA's air quality monitor in South Eugene's Amazon Park. She said that a fairly strong system would have to come through to push out all the pollution that is trapped in the inland valleys. Current weather forecast

With the increased pollution and stagnant air, health officials advise people sensitive to pollution to take it easy.

"Usually that's people with lung disease, some people with heart disease and the very old and young," said Dr. Pat Luedtke of Lane Pubic Health.

The Air Protection Agency said that violators of the wood stove burn-ban initially get a warning.

"If we get a repeat complaint on a red advisory day we issue a notice of violation," said Marcos, adding that each violation carries with it a $50 fine.