Winter is here and that means many residents will be turning to their wood stoves and fireplaces to keep warm. But this year the city of Chico is putting some restrictions on how and when you can do that. " The city adopted an ordinance, it became affective November 1st, but this is the first time the air quality has been poor enough that the no burn advisory has been issued", said Administrative Service Manager Linda Herman.
Chico's mandatory no burn advisory coincides with Butte county's voluntary program check before you light. Both target non EPA certified phase two wood stoves and open fireplaces. The ordinance will only be mandated in Chico on days when air quality is deemed poor. Last year eight advisory days were issued in Butte county. " A lot of the population is susceptible to cardiopulmonary problems, heart disease and it really impacts a greater population that we realize", said Butte county associate air quality planner Armen Kamian.
There are exemptions for low income residents with economic hardships, and exceptions for those who use wood burning stoves and fireplaces as their only source of heat. The program will be mandated by the city's code enforcement team. Residents will receive warnings by mail if a complaint is made regarding the amount of smoke coming from their chimney, and if they fail to comply they could receive a ticket. " People think that oh, I can't burn at all, and that's not the case, the case is it's only on those poor air quality days that the restrictions become affective", said Herman.
And while restrictions on using wood stoves and fireplaces are intensifying, the sale of them is on the rise. According to U.S census data, the number of homes heating with wood has risen 34 percent nation wide since 2000. " Since the economy dropped a lot of people can't afford to run their heater all the time, we have a good supply of wood here in Chico, so it's cheaper and a little more efficient sometimes", said Charles James, manger at Lambert's Masonry and Supply.