Smoke from ongoing wildfires is making outdoor activity dangerous for Turlock residents and all those in northern California and Tuolumne and Mariposa counties, prompting the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District to issue a health caution.
The health caution will remain in effect for San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Kern counties until the fires are extinguished or until smoke is no longer affecting the Valley.
The District has also issued an Air Quality Alert with the National Weather Service due to wildfire smoke impacts on Valley air quality.
In addition, winds from the northwest may cause localized blowing dust in San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced and the western portion of the Valley including Madera, Fresno, Kings and Kern counties, according to the Air District.
The District warns residents being impacted by smoke or dust to stay indoors to reduce their exposure to particulate matter (PM) emissions. Particulate matter can trigger asthma attacks, aggravate chronic bronchitis, and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Individuals with heart or lung disease should follow their doctors’ advice for dealing with episodes of PM exposure. Those with existing respiratory conditions, including COVID-19, young children and the elderly, are especially susceptible to the health effects from this form of pollution. Anyone experiencing poor air quality due to wildfire smoke should move to a filtered, air-conditioned environment with windows closed. Common cloth and paper masks being used as protection from COVID-19 may not be sufficient protection from wildfire smoke inhalation.
Current wildfires that are impacting air quality in the Valley include:
· - Dixie Fire in Butte, Plumas and Lassen counties: Active for 35 days, burned 635,728 acres and is 33% contained as of Wednesday;
· - Lava Fire in Siskiyou County: Active since Aug. 9, burned 26,409 acres and is 85% contained;
· - Monument Fire in Trinity County: Active since July 30, burned 128,613 acres and is 10% contained.
· - River Complex Fire in Trinity County: Active since July 30, 48,214 acres and is 10% contained;
· - McFarland Fire in Trinity, Shasta and Tehama counties: Active since July 29, 107,102 acres and is 51% contained;
· - Tiltill Fire in Tuolumne County: Active since July 31, 1,960 acres and is 90% contained;
· - Caldor Fire in El Dorado County: Active since Aug. 14, 53,772 acres and there is no information on how much of it is contained; and
· - Walkers Fire in Tulare County: Active since Aug. 15, 1,969 acres and there is no information on how much of it is contained.
The public is advised to visit the District’s Wildfire Information Page at www.valleyair.org/wildfires for details on current and recently past wildfires affecting the Valley. The site includes resources on how to protect yourself from exposure to wildfire smoke, including instructions on how to make a DIY air filter for your home, links to foothill air monitors and the District’s Real-time Air Advisory Network (RAAN), allowing residents to track air quality at any Valley location. You can visit RAAN directly at myRAAN.com or use the “Valley Air” app, free to download on any mobile device. In addition, see the EPA’s recommendations on “What Can I Do Now to Protect My Family from Wildfire Smoke?” For more information, visit www.valleyair.org or call 209- 557-6400.