Editor's note: This article was updated at 7:40 p.m. with details on fines for violators of the no-burn order.
Residents from Marina del Rey through Long Beach in Los Angeles County, as well as several coastal Orange County areas, will be under a "no-burn" alert from midnight Tuesday through midnight Wednesday due to an unhealthy air quality forecast from the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
According to an email alert from the AQMD, the air quality for Wednesday is predicted to be unhealthy for sensitive groups.
Because of this, residents may not burn "wood or manufactured fire logs" in their fireplaces or outdoor fire pits from midnight tonight through midnight Wednesday under the AQMD's "Check Before You Burn" program, Sam Atwood of the AQMD said.
People caught burning wood in their fireplaces during a no-burn alert face fines, according to an email from the AQMD. First-time violators can be fined $50, though they may attend a wood smoke awareness course in lieu of paying the fine. On the second violation, the fine increases to $150, or the resident may install a dedicated gas-fueled fireplace. Third-time violators will be either fined $500 or forced to fund a project that will benefit the environment.
Multiple violations are accrued during individual wood-burning seasons from November through February. To report a suspected violation, call 800-288-7664 or visit aqmd.gov.
The no-burn area stretches from Inglewood on the north to Laguna Niguel on the south, to Anaheim Hills on the east. In Los Angeles County, it includes the cities of Culver City, El Segundo, Manhattan Beach, Hawthorne, Gardena, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, Torrance, the Palos Verdes Peninsula, San Pedro and Long Beach, among others, according to a map provided by the AQMD.
Wood burning creates an average of 5 tons of harmful PM2.5—very fine particulate matter that's 1/30th the width of a human hair—emissions per day in the South Coast Air Basin, which is four times the amount emitted from all power plants in the area, according to the AQMD. These small particles can lodge deep in the lungs and cause respiratory health problems, and long-term exposure can lead to reduced lung function and chronic bronchitis.
According to Dr. Joshua Davidson, a physician in Torrance who specializes in allergy and immunology, air quality alerts should be taken seriously.
"Individuals with COPD, asthma and hay fever should consider spending a good amount of time indoors (Wednesday)," he said. "Limiting outdoor exercise is also a good idea."
—City News Service contributed to this report.