Residents in much of the South Coast Air Quality Management District are prohibited from indoor and outdoor wood burning on Christmas Day and Saturday due to a forecast of high air pollution in the area.

The mandatory wood-burning ban is in effect through 11:59 p.m. Saturday for all those in the South Coast Air Basin, including the non-desert portions of Riverside, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, and all of Orange County. The order does not apply to mountain communities above 3,000 feet in elevation, the Coachella Valley or the high desert.

Fine particles in wood smoke, also known as particulate matter or PM2.5, can get deep into the lungs and cause respiratory problems such as asthma.

Penalties for violating a wood-burning ban are completion of a wood smoke awareness course or $50 the first time, $150 or proof of installing a gas fireplace the second time and $500 the third time, according to AQMD Rule 445.

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