Stiff Fines Possible For Burning Wood Stoves Or Fireplaces During Alerts [YouTube]
The Stage One Air Pollution Alert has been continued by the Missoula City County Health Department as of 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, meaning the air is currently unhealthy for sensitive groups.
Air Quality Specialist Ben Schmidt said health department officials are paying special attention to the use of wood burning devices during the alert.
"Very few people in the Missoula air stagnation zone are allowed to use their wood stoves for heat at this point," Schmidt said. "Some have sole-source wood stoves that were grandfathered in after the rules went into effect in 1994. There are about 200 people who have a stage one air quality alert permit, but they have to keep their emissions very low."
Schmidt said health department workers will be out watching for signs that people are burning wood as the alert continues.
"We do get complaints, which we go out and investigate, that's part of our job," he said. "We also pick streets and neighborhoods at random. There's a three step process we use. First, we do an educational visit and give them a chance to comply with the rules. The first fine after that is $50, the second violation is a $250 fine and the third violation is a $500 fine."
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