Check before you light

The Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District recommends avoiding the use of any wood-burning device (including wood stoves, fireplaces, fire pits and cook stoves) on poor air quality days. Refrain from open burning, as well. The District will issue a “Clear The Air; Check Before You Light” daily health advisory for these days.

An advisory will be issued when weather forecasts indicate stagnant conditions and smoke produced to heat homes will remain in the breathing zone. Smoke from wood burning is responsible for the majority of air pollution in Plumas County.

The greater Portola area has been designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a federal “nonattainment” area. This means that air pollution exceeds National Ambient Air Quality Standards for fine particulate matter (PM2.5). The District, the California Air Resources Board, the U.S. EPA and the city of Portola are working together to reduce air pollution to meet state and national standards.

Exposure to elevated PM2.5 concentrations can result in eye and throat irritation, headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, congestion, coughing, impaired lung function, chest pain and premature death, especially among sensitive individuals such as the elderly, children, people with asthma and people with heart or lung conditions.


Portola can “Clear the Air” and improve community health. Here’s how:

– Light only on EPA certified devices on advisory days.

– Use only dry, well-seasoned wood (less than 20 percent moisture content.

– Go outside and look at your chimney to make sure it is burning hot enough so that smoke is not being emitted. A proper fire should produce only heat waves once draft is created.

– Never burn garbage or chemically treated wood.

– Do not let creosote build up in your chimney (avoid wet/green wood. Clean the chimney annually.

– Schedule curbside green waste pickup with IMD (within the city of Portola).

Open residential burning is banned within the city limits of Portola.

To check Wintertime Air Quality Advisories, visit or call 832-4067.

To see if you are eligible for funding to replace your current uncertified wood stove or qualified fireplace with a new EPA certified stove, call the Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District, 832-0102.