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January 12, 2012 at 11:04 AM

Soot brings prettier sunsets, burn bans to Seattle area

The same dirty air that has brought the Seattle area especially vibrant sunrises and sunsets in recent days has also resulted in burn bans in four counties.

The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency issued a stage one burn ban Wednesday for King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties. It prohibits outdoor fires, as well as burning in fireplaces and uncertified wood stoves.

Air trapped in the area could stick around until Saturday or longer, and may reach levels dangerous for people suffering from asthma or other respiratory conditions or heart problems, said Kimberley Cline, the agency’s spokeswoman.

The tiny particles bypass the body’s normal defenses, she said.

The weather also brings with it colder nights, said Dennis D’Amico, a meteorologist with Seattle’s National Weather Service. That makes people more likely to light a fire at home, he said.

“If you’re just lighting a fire because you like it, this is a time to not do it,” D’Amico said. “In your fireplace, the smoke is not mixing, it’s not dissipating. It’s sticking around.”

The added soot in the air means the sun is refracting off of more particles in the lower atmosphere. That creates a prettier, more colorful show early and late in the day, he said.

While a windy Saturday could help lift the ban, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency is looking at the situation daily, Cline said.  She said she doesn’t expect the ban to last through the weekend.

Other agencies have put burn bans in place in Thurston, Mason, Clark, Kittitas and Yakima counties.

Comments | More in General news, Weather Beat | Topics: Burn ban, National Weather Service, Puget Sound Clean Air Agency

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