The new year is starting in the Bay Area the same way the old year ended -- with a Winter Spare the Air alert banning wood burning throughout the region.
A persistent dry, cold-weather pattern has resulted in a buildup of pollution and has prompted the Bay Area Air Quality Management District to issue the alert for Wednesday.
It is the 24th alert the air district has issued since the Winter Spare the Air season started Nov. 1. Today, New Year's Eve, is also a Spare the Air day.
During a Winter Spare the Air day, wood burning is banned both indoors and outdoors except for homes that depend on it as the lone source of heat.
Air district officials say New Year's Eve firework shows, such as the one along The Embarcadero in San Francisco tonight, are not subject to the ban.
The recent flurry of Winter Spare the Air has been due to persistent high-pressure cold weather systems that trap unhealthy particulate
matter close to the ground, according to the air district.
Wood burning is the major source of air pollution in the Bay Area during the winter and is particularly harmful to children, the elderly and people with respiratory conditions, district officials said.
Those found to be violating the wood-burning ban will have to pay a $100 fine or take a wood-smoke awareness class. Subsequent violations are subject to tickets of $500 and higher.
The daily burn status can be found on the air district's website at sparetheair.org, by calling (877) 4-NO-BURN, or by downloading Spare the Air iPhone or Android smartphone apps.