Air quality zone map

FAIRBANKS—The borough has called its first Stage 3 alert of this winter in North Pole, where the air is categorized as unhealthy.

A Stage 3 alert means that residents in that air quality control zone are prohibited from using wood and coal stoves unless they have a waiver from the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

Air Quality Manager Ron Lovell said high levels of harmful PM2.5, or fine particulate pollution, prompted the alert.

The air has been stagnant in North Pole, Lovell said, and pollution is not dispersing.

"It's been pretty bad," he said.

The alert began on Wednesday and will remain in place through Friday afternoon when officials re-evaluate.

The air in Fairbanks is listed as moderate and Fairbanks is under no burning restrictions, according to the borough's air quality website.

The borough has three stages of air alerts. Under a Stage 1 alert, residents are asked to voluntarily stop burning wood and coal. A Stage 2 alert bans use of old, dirty solid-fuel burning devices. Only stoves certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are allowed. Stage 3 is the most serious of the alerts.

Lovell said the borough has received about 10 air quality complaints this week from neighborhoods in both Fairbanks and North Pole.

The municipality has started to issue letters and warnings to area residents puffing out excessive emissions from their smokestacks, he said.

Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7587. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMborough.