VALLEYWIDE -- Even before the sun was up, the haze in the air was visible Wednesday morning. Not only could you see it, you could smell it.
Although Tuesday was a No Burn Day in Maricopa County, many people apparently ignored the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality's edict as the smell was burning wood permeated the city.
"It's kind of odd because it hasn't been like this," one Valley resident told 3TV's Yett Gibson. "I noticed it started last night. It smell odd. It just smells weird."
This is the second year in a row that Maricopa County has welcomed the new year with a No Burn Day.
Officials say our particulate levels spike as folks use their fireplaces this time of year, particularly on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.
These conditions pose a serious health risk to the elderly, children with asthma and folks with respiratory issues. The particles can be absorbed into the blood stream and decrease lung function, exacerbate bronchitis and asthma and increase chances for heart attacks and premature death.
On a No Burn Day, wood burning in residential fireplaces, chimineas, outdoor fire pits and similar outdoor fires is not allowed. Gas and electric heaters are allowed.
Ignoring a No Burn Day designation can be costly. First-time violators will receive a warning, while repeat offenders can face fines of up to $250 per violation.
For more information about No Burn Days, go to www.cleanairmakemore.com or call 602-506-6400.