Burn ban upgraded as stagnant air lingers

By Eric Florip, Columbian transportation & environment reporter

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A stubbornly stagnant weather pattern and poor air quality Friday prompted local officials to increase restrictions on burning in Clark County.

The Southwest Clean Air Agency upgraded this week's burn ban to Stage 2. That means the use of all wood heating is prohibited — including fireplaces, certified wood stoves and inserts. Outdoor burning is also prohibited, according to the agency.

Homes that use wood burning as their only source of heat, however, are exempt from the ban.

Stagnant air conditions settled over the region late last week, leading the clean air agency to declare a Stage 1 burn ban on Monday. That trend hasn't changed, allowing particulates to accumulate in the air from smoke and other activities, officials said.

Current air pollution levels in Clark County are high enough to be unhealthy for people with certain health conditions, children and older adults, according to the clean air agency. The burn ban is intended to reduce the amount of pollutants being added to the air, officials said.

Similar conditions — and the burn ban — may linger into early next week. An air stagnation advisory remains in effect until at least Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service in Portland.