Valley Air District offering vouchers to help people replace their fireplace or wood burning stove

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Chilly temperatures at night in the Central Valley have a number of people lighting up their fireplaces. But recent restrictions from the Valley Air District are making it difficult for some people to do that.

A new six-million dollar grant awarded to the Valley Air District will help homeowners upgrade their fireplace or wood burning stove. Allowing them to burn clean and to stay warm. The Valley Air District is now offering vouchers for homeowners to replace their older fireplace, or wood burning stove, for a new one that will help clean up the Valley's dirty air.

The executive director of the Valley Air District says this part of the country faces air quality challenges that are unmatched by any other region. "A big part of it are some of the things that we don't have control over such as our weather conditions, the geography, the topography. Basically, the valley being a bowl with a lid on top of it," said Seyed Sadredin, Air Pollution Control Officer.

That's why wood burning restrictions are in place during the fall and winter. Homeowners with older wood burning devices are not allowed to burn on certain days while homeowners with clean burning devices can.

The new six-million dollar grant will also help Valley farmer purchase new tractors that use less fuel and that are more environmentally friendly. But most of the grant will go to nearly 2,000 homeowners in the Central Valley, helping them cover 45-percent of the cost. "People want to do the right thing. If you ask anyone, do you want to make a contribution to cleaning up the air in the San Joaquin Valley? Every single person you will ask will say yes," explained Jared Blumenfeld, EPA regional administrator.

One maker of clean burning stoves said many people don't realize a lot of the smoke from older fireplaces stays inside the house. Newer stoves burn their smoke. "You can see the effect out of the stack. There's no visible smoke-- some emissions but no visible smoke. If your chimney doesn't look like that you're wasting energy," said John Crouch, Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association.

The vouchers are available now to those in the Central Valley interested in replacing their older tractor or wood burning device. Just check with the Valley Air District to see if you qualify.
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