February 9, 2022

Stagnant air and pollution has created unhealthy air in the Portland Metro area, leading health officials this morning to issue a mandatory wood burning restriction to residents in Multnomah County. Conditions are expected to persist at least through Thursday. The restrictions will be lifted when conditions improve. “Red Day” wood burning restriction issued; first mandatory limit of the season

Beginning at noon February 9th, homeowners, renters and businesses may not use fireplaces, wood stoves or pellet stoves or any outdoor wood burning devices until the burn restriction is lifted. Multnomah County residents can check the Winter Wood Burning Restrictions Page for updates or call 503-988-0035.

“Avoiding wood burning is always a healthy choice,” said Andrea Hamberg, Multnomah County’s interim Environmental Health Services director. “But it is especially important as we continue to be in the midst of a respiratory pandemic. There are a lot of people out there trying to recover from COVID-19, and adding to air pollution does not help."

Burning is allowed in the following cases:

  • If wood is the household’s sole source of heat.
  • If household income is 60 percent or less than the Oregon median income.
  • In the event of a power outage, service interruption or shortage cuts off a primary source of heat.
  • If food is being cooked with a charcoal grill, smoker or wood-fired oven.

To apply for an exemption, visit multco.us/woodsmokestatus, call 503-988-0035 or email woodsmokecomplaints@multco.us.

County considers further cuts to wood smoke

This is the first time a mandatory burn curtailment has been called this season under an ordinance passed in January 2018 by the Board of County Commissioners. The County has called three red days since the ordinance passed in 2018. 

The curtailment comes as commissioners consider policy changes to further reduce wood smoke. The Office of Sustainability, in partnership with Commissioners Susheela Jayapal and Jessica Vega Pederson presented a menu of policy options at a Board briefing on Feb. 8. The proposals include big changes to the county’s seasonal wood smoke curtailment program, bans on new wood burning stoves and grants to help low-income homes transition to cleaner sources of heat.

The Board on Thursday will consider a resolution that sets a new vision and aligns air quality targets with guidelines set by the World Health Organization. Next week, the Board will consider amendments to its Wood smoke ordinance, that incorporate some of the recommendations including extending the seasonal curtailment program to year-round, modifying messaging and removing certified wood stoves as exempt.

Check air quality

The fine particulate matter created when wood burns is a leading cause of wintertime air pollution in Multnomah County, and the ordinance helps protect people who are most vulnerable to poor air quality. Current conditions are bordering ‘moderate’ and ‘unhealthy for sensitive groups’ such as children, the elderly, and those with heart and lung conditions. 

Track air quality on the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s Air Quality map.

Officials at Multnomah County Environmental Health began conducting daily forecasting in cooperation with the Department of Environmental Quality and the National Weather Service to identify potential poor air quality days. The seasonal wood burning ordinance is in effect each year from Oct. 1 through March 1. 

When conditions suggest an upcoming inversion (cooler air trapped below warmer air) along with pollution, Multnomah County may announce a burn restriction, which remains in effect for 24 hours unless an extension is warranted.  

When air quality and weather are very bad, a dial posted on the website will point to Red — “Burn restriction.” 

When air quality and weather suggest moderately unhealthy conditions, a dial posted on the website will point to Yellow — “Voluntary burn restriction.” The county has called 23 voluntary burn restriction days so far this season.

When conditions are normal, the website will list ‘no restrictions.’

Stay Informed


Report a suspected violation of a mandatory burn restriction to Multnomah County Environmental Health: