UPDATE 1/10: From today’s Bee: Stronger Valley air pollution alerts to be issued.
ORIGINAL ENTRY 1/9: I was walking along Huntington Boulevard at about 4:30 p.m. yesterday, enjoying a nice late-Sunday stroll on a lazy afternoon, when I noticed a house on the south side of the street — very cute, very rustic, with a charming depiction of an owl hanging from the roof — with smoke wafting out the chimney. A big pile of firewood was stacked on the front porch. It was nearly 60 degrees.
Really? On a no-burn day, in a week in which the stuff we breathe is choked with particulate matter? Are people really that clueless about how bad our air is this winter? On Dec. 29, Bee environment writer Mark Grossi wrote:
The Valley’s haze has become a nasty brew of soot and debris twice the federal health standard. And it’s getting worse. Nature and the economy have created a perfect storm of dirty air — the worst December bout for the Fresno-Clovis area in more than a decade.
Some people say they have to use their fireplaces for economic reasons. If they don’t burn, they can’t stay warm, and that’s a health issue, they say.
Not when it’s warm to walk down the street in your shirt sleeves.
As seems to be depressingly the case in our hyper-polarized society, wood burning becomes a political act as well. As one fresnobee.com commenter declared:
I believe I have a right to burn a fire in my fireplace without an unreasonable search of my chimney. Just seems like government has grown too big.
What I want to know is this: How bad does our air have to get for clueless people to stop the burning? Right now, the fine for lighting wood fires is $50, waived on the first offense. Maybe it should be $5,000.