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Washington Voices

Event, grants encourage clean wood burning

Thu., May 3, 2012

People in the Spokane area who like to burn wood to stay warm might consider attending a family-friendly event this weekend on how to ensure wood is dry and seasoned for clean burning.

The event will be Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Spokane Valley fire station at 10319 E. Sprague Ave. It is being organized through the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency.

Wood heating demonstrations, wood shed buildings and prizes are part of the event.

The first 30 people to arrive will get a free moisture meter for checking their wood stocks. You can take a hunk of your wood supply to the event and have it checked for its moisture content.

Dry, seasoned wood gives off the most heat, causes less accumulation of creosote and minimizes air pollution from smoke.

Fire safety will be part of the program, as well as log-splitting demonstrations.

Construction of a wood-drying shed will be shown. One attendee will win the shed built on Saturday.

Hot dogs and children’s activities are planned, along with a tour of a fire engine.

The clean air agency has also helped 47 homeowners scrap their old, inefficient wood stoves and replace them with cleaner-burning appliances.

Of those 47 swaps, about half were exchanged for natural-gas appliances.

Another 30 change-out applications are in the works, leaving money in a special fund for another 30 to 40 change-outs, said Lisa Woodard, spokeswoman for the agency.

“Smoke from wood heating is the chief source of particle pollution in Spokane during winter. These change-outs will result in cleaner air in our neighborhoods. Smoke particles contain various chemical substances that are harmful to everyone’s health, particularly children, elderly and those with heart and lung conditions,” Woodard said in a news release.

To apply for the exchange program, go to or call the agency at (509) 477-4727.

Residents within the county’s smoke control zone are eligible if they are using a pre-1995 stove or insert.

The grants are $500 for replacing a wood appliance with a certified one, $700 for installing pellet heat and $1,000 to switch to natural gas. A mini-split system using ductless heat pumps is eligible, too.

Replacements, including professional installation, can cost upward of $2,500. Vouchers from the program are good at participating retailers. The program is possible through a grant from the state Department of Ecology.

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