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Outdoor Flame Under Fire in California

An outdoor fireplace like this could burn a hole in your pocketbook if California officials cite you for a “no-burn-day” fire.

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Starting next year, installing indoor and outdoor fireplaces will be illegal across a broad swath of Southern California. Then, in 2011, officials will declare “no-burn-days” across the area during winter periods when weather conditions block smoke from dissipating.

Rules Affect Contractors

Builders will be banned from installing wood-burning fireplaces in new homes, and it will be illegal to buy and install one when remodeling a home. Gas-burning fireplaces will be allowed.

Restaurants with wood-fired ovens, such as California Pizza Kitchen, will not be affected by daily bans. Nor will homeowners who rely on a fireplace for heat, or who have properties at an elevation above 3,000 feet.

Coastal areas that don’t experience as many high-pollution days probably will be unaffected. Beach fires and ceremonial fires used by tribes also will be allowed.

The district has jurisdiction over Orange County, most of Los Angeles County and the western portions of Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

Similar rules are already in place in the San Joaquin Valley and the Sacramento area, and San Francisco Bay area air regulators have proposed wood burning rules.

Builder Complains

“This is personal for a lot of people,” said Burten Carraher, who builds custom fireplaces and chimneys. “Fireplaces are not used that often in Los Angeles. But for people who do, it’s a place of comfort.

“It’s a place where they relax, and I cannot imagine the number of fireplaces used for that purpose should be addressed in this major, major manner. . . . This is a personal pleasure. It’s one of the few things they can enjoy—besides a television I guess—that makes it a home.”

“We believe consumers should have the choice,” said Julie Senter, spokeswoman for the Building Industry Association of Southern California.

Fines and Regulations

The regulations also propose penalties. If air quality doesn’t meet the federal health standard, homeowners could not light up a fire starting in 2013. Violators could face fines from $50 to $500.

Sources: Riverside (Calif.) Press-Enterprise, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle


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June 27, 2019, 2:07 am PDT

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