Red Burn Code in Washoe County Moves Into Thursday

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RENO, NV -- During freezing days and nights similar to those Truckee Meadows residents have been facing, many of us turn to fireplaces or wood stoves to warm up, but you might want to avoid that for a while. Health officials issued a red burn code to the Truckee Meadows area Monday, December 9. Polluted air can be very dangerous for people with respiratory issues, especially for young children and the elderly. The alert has been extended each day since, including into Thursday, December 19.

It may seem sunny and clear in the valley, but there's no denying a hazy line lingering high above, and it's what we're breathing.

"When we have these calm winds and strong temperature inversions, the fiber particulate matters can go up very quickly," said Daniel Inouye, a representative from Washoe County Health District Air Quality.

It's not unusual this time of year to be living under an inversion that traps pollutants in the valley.

"Around 6 p.m. 7 p.m. until midnight and a couple of hours into the next day is when we see our highest pollution levels."

Those hours are typically some of the coldest times in the day. Residents can expect to see more red burn codes in the future compared to the past, but that's not because our air is getting worse.

"The Environmental Protection Agency has collected more science and found that lower levels of pollution can cause harm to the public," Inouye, said. "That's why we're seeing more air quality index levels than we did last year."

It's critical not to use fireplaces, wood stoves, or pellet stoves during a red burn code. Until this inversion breaks, we'll be seeing and breathing in pollutants.

"One high polluting wood stove can cause a lot of pollution in the neighborhood so with everyone's cooperation, we can help keep our air quality clean."

If you get caught burning during a red burn code day, you'd typically get a warning, but if you're caught a second time, you could face a fine. If your only source of heat is through burning wood, you can be exempt by simply registering your address to the Washoe County Health District Air Quality Management Division.


RENO, NV - Strong temperature inversions and stagnant weather conditions have caused air pollution levels to rapidly increase in Washoe County, so the Washoe County Health District, Air Quality Management Division is issuing a Red Burn Code. Use of fireplaces, wood stoves, and pellet stoves is prohibited until further notice, unless woodburning is your only source of heat.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) may be Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups at times, meaning people with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion. Everyone else should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion.