Last week the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District had to issue a "no-burn" alert in at least one of the region's counties every day. The alerts are issued when the air becomes so polluted it's a health hazard.
On days when the "no burn" rule is invoked, regulars monitor homes looking for violators.
Kelly Hogan Malay a spokeswoman for the district says dozens people were caught after throwing a log in the fireplace when the ban was in effect.
"We'll issue a notice of violation if an air district inspector sees wood smoke coming from a chimney. And we issue that notice of violation by mail. The inspector does not approach the property."
Malay says homes that don't have conventional forms of heating such as natural gas are exempt from the "no burn" rule. Those who fall into that category and are cited can have the citation dismissed.
First time violators can have the fifty-dollar fine waived if they attend a compliance school which is similar to traffic school.