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Go after the big smoke culprits

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Now that it is rainy and windy, this comment seems a little belated, but it will be pertinent next fall as it was last fall, and unfortunately for many autumns to come, (“Locals bemoan burn ban,” Journal, Jan. 13). Placer County Air Pollution Control District likes to point accusatory fingers at fireplace owners who like to burn a log on a chilly evening; or the homeowner with a 3-foot-by-3 foot pile of leaves to burn as the culprits who are responsible for smoke so thick that I cannot see my neighbor’s house — smoke that makes everyone’s eyes water, throats hurt and sales for antihistamines to skyrocket. Like the fabled king and his beautiful suit of clothes, or the lack of, the Air Pollution Control District never once mentions the real reason that no one can enjoy a warm fire on a chilly evening is the burning rice fields. Thousands of acres of rice fields are torched every autumn. On calm days one can see smoke from huge fields of burning stubble waft straight up into the air, and then fan out into the foothills. The whole valley will be dotted with these fires. Banning the burning of a 3-foot-by-3-foot pile of leaves is like pouring a cup of water on a raging forest fire. Why bother? The only reason I can see is that it justifies the existence of the Air Pollution Control District, and perhaps the hefty fine for a lawbreaker who cannot resist the temptation of a flickering fireplace log raises revenue for Placer County coffers. DIXIE LEE MUNOZ, Auburn