Valley haze: Air quality inspectors out on patrol

- Air quality control inspectors have been busy the last couple of nights, responding to complaints about people burning wood on a no-burn day.

For pretty much the entire day, a thick haze hung over the valley.

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality issued a high pollution advisory on January 1 because of all the soot and dirt in the air.

The haze trapped polluted, stagnant air.

Inspectors were scouring the valley for burn violators, including people at a home in south Phoenix. A pile of ashes on the ground is what's left of the bonfire they had going.

"they just had an open fire in the front yard. It was obvious when I drove by.. sitting there burning.. people sitting around, just hanging out," said Jack McCormack, an air quality inspector.

They were issued a warning. The air is particularly bad in this neighborhood.

"This is an older neighborhood. They're more likely to have wood burning fireplaces and there's a cultural aspect to it. You could see this family had a bonfire outside," said Bob Huhn of the Maricopa County Air Quality Department.

Several factors have contributed to the poor air quality recently.

"One, New Year's Eve we had a lot of wood burning activity, a lot of fireplaces, bonfires going on. Two, there were also fireworks," explained Huhn.  "And also, we did not have a lot of freezes today, not a lot of winds... and then now that it's colder, the inversion pushes the pollution down."

Whether or not there will be burn days this weekend all depends on Mother Nature.

"And it's all based on the weather," said Huhn.

As of Friday night, Saturday is not expected to be a no burn day.

The consequences for violating the no burn day policy is a warning for the first offense. If you receive a second violation in the same year, the result is a $50 fine.


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