PHOENIX -- Air quality regulators are banning wood burning in Maricopa County on Monday because of high levels of pollutants already in the air.
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality issued a high pollution health watch alert because levels of small particles in the air are expected to be at unhealthful levels for the fourth day in a row.
Open burning and use of wood burning fireplaces are generally prohibited. People with respiratory problems are advised to avoid heavy or prolonged outdoor exertion.
Maricopa County air quality officials say they know the mandatory restrictions may put a crimp in Christmas Eve celebrations. But director Bill Wiley says fires also fill neighborhoods with smoke and make breathing hard for some people.