Mesa County issues no-burn order

Residents of Grand Junction could face a fine of up to $1,000 and 10 days in jail should they burn a fire in their wood stoves or fireplaces before 3 p.m. Monday, said Ed Brotsky, Mesa County air pollution specialist.

A red air quality advisory issued Wednesday for western Colorado valleys, including Grand Junction, Fruita, Delta and Montrose, places a restriction on wood burning in fireplaces and non-EPA approved wood stoves through 3 p.m. Monday, Brotsky said.

Wood stoves manufactured before 1988 do not comply with current EPA regulations, he said.

Enforcement, which is initiated by complaints by residents, normally takes the form of an informal warning from city police for first-time infractions, Brotsky said.

Both Grand Junction and Fruita impose penalties for violations of a no-burn order within city limits. Outside city limits, compliance is voluntary “but strongly encouraged,” he said.

Although Mesa County Health Department’s fine particulate sensor was malfunctioning shortly before 3 p.m. Wednesday, Brotsky said he believed the air quality was good.

Air quality was expected to move into the moderate category by today because of warm temperatures and stagnant air across western valleys, which could result in colder air nearer the ground and cause a temperature inversion.

An inversion would trap fine particulates from wood smoke and car exhaust next to the ground, aggravating health conditions for people with respiratory problems and posing a cancer risk, Brotsky said.

Problems are more likely to develop in infants, small children, people with existing respiratory problems and the elderly, health department officials said. 

Western Slope Air Watch, Western Colorado’s wintertime air quality advisory program, started Nov. 1 and runs through Feb. 28, 2014.

Under the program, advisories using the “Blue Flame OK” or “Red Flame NO” burning symbols are issued to local media, which announce the advisories to the public.

Residents can check the current status by calling a 24-hour pre-recorded information line at (970) 248-6990 or by checking the Mesa County Health Department website at

The 24-hour number is also updated with the latest air quality advisories for the Grand Valley in Mesa County and the Uncompahgre and Gunnison River Valleys in Delta and Montrose Counties.


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