The wildfire burning in the area of Del Puerto Canyon continues to burn through acres of wilderness and threaten the community of Diablo Grande, while prompting health warnings for much of the region from lingering smoke and ash.
The fire is part of the SCU Lightning Complex incident that includes 20 separate fires broken into three zones: The Canyon Zone, the Calaveras Zone and the Deer Zone. The Del Puerto fire is part of the Canyon Zone.
The SCU Lightning Complex has burned through more than 200,000 acres and was 10 percent contained as of about 1 p.m. Friday, according to Cal Fire. In Stanislaus County a mandatory evacuation order was issued for Del Puerto Canyon Road and an evacuation warning continues for residents of Diablo Grande Community.
The continued high temperatures, warm and dry overnight conditions, plenty of fuel, and the difficulty in reaching access points has made the fire a challenge to fight. Crews are continuing to scout for safe access points in order to construct fire lines as well as protect structures and critical infrastructure, said Cal Fire.
The forecast shows possible dry lightning storms from Sunday to Tuesday, raising a warning of more fires on the horizon.
The wildfires burning in several areas of the state continue to push smoke into the Valley air basin and raise concentrations of particulate matter. As a result, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District is reissuing a health caution, which will remain in place until the fires are extinguished. The District anticipates unhealthy air quality to affect the Valley through the weekend and warns residents to stay indoors.
Particulate matter pollution 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 can be affected by the smoke from wildfires, with the most common symptoms eye and throat irritation, coughing, and difficulty breathing.
Anyone experiencing poor air quality due to wildfire smoke should move indoors, to a filtered, air-conditioned environment with windows closed. The common cloth and paper masks individuals are wearing due to COVID-19 concerns may not protect them from wildfire smoke.
The Stanislaus County Office of Emergency Services recommends people take these precautions to protect their health:
• Minimize outdoor activities.
• Stay indoors with windows and doors closed as much as possible.
• Do not run fans that bring smoky outdoor air inside.
• Run your air-conditioner or heat only if it does not bring smoke in from the outdoors.
• Consider leaving the area until smoke conditions improve if you experience symptoms related to smoke exposure. However, check beforehand that the area you might travel to is also not experiencing smoke from wildfires.
• Know current air quality by checking at https://www.valleyair.org/myraan/
For outdoor workers:
• Limit exertion.
• Take frequent breaks.
• If prolonged outdoor activity is unavoidable, proper masks (for example N95 masks) can protect against harmful exposure.
• Consult with your employer if you have specific concerns.
When to seek medical attention:
Contact your health care provider if you experience the following symptoms that do not improve after moving indoors or into a safe air quality environment:
• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
• Chest tightness or pain
• Nausea or unusual fatigue
• Lightheadedness and/or feeling faint