The Phoenix area suffered through the worst pollution in the country on this first day of the new year.

The Valley woke to a smoky haze on Friday morning; an obvious sign that many people had ignored the countywide no-burn day in effect New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

"It smelled like a fireplace to me," said Ben Davis, who oversees Maricopa County's two dozen stations that monitor air quality. Davis said the lingering pollution made Jan. 1 the worst air day in memory.


The air was rated unhealthy for all Valley residents, according to metro-area forecasts compiled by

The areas hit hardest by the smoky New Year's Eve hangover were in West Phoenix, South Phoenix and along a band east through Guadalupe, Tempe and Mesa. The air in North-Central Phoenix was also rated unhealthy.

"I feel like someone's sitting on my chest and I can't get enough air," said Shereen Marino, who suffers from asthma and allergies. She was staying inside Friday.

"I experience a lot of fatigue climbing stairs and things I can do normally are more difficult," Marino said.

Maricopa County has only about a half-dozen inspectors who go out in the evenings looking for homes violating a no-burn day. They do rely on tips from neighbors to the county complaint line, at 602-372-2703.