The Mesa County Health Department has issued an Air Watch Alert. When this happens, it can put a real chill on some residents' wallets.

The No Burn restriction bans all burning in non-EPA approved wood stoves and fireplaces. The restrictions are in place to lessen air pollution and attempt to prevent that pollution from rising to unhealthy levels.

The Mesa County Health Department explains why the No Burn restrictions are necessary.

Increased concentrations of particulate matter, small particle pollution, can have adverse effects on sensitive groups of people, such as shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing. People with heart or lung disease, older adults and children in Mesa County should reduce prolonged or heavy indoor and outdoor exertion."

While the restriction bans burning in non-EPA approved woodstoves, there are exemptions available for residents whose only source of heat is from a wood burning fireplace or stove. Contact the Mesa County Health Department to see if you qualify.

The chilly response comes from those who have a furnace, but for economic reasons, use their non-EPA approved stove or fireplace as their primary source of heat. For them, it's the proverbial 'stuck between a rock and a hard place.'

Since the number of No Burn days varies from year to year, it makes it virtually impossible for these residents to know in advance if they will need assistance with their energy bill.

For residents needing help, Xcel Energy can offer payment arrangements or can guide people to energy assistance programs. The Mesa County Department of Human Services also has programs available.

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