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Wildfires prompt poor air quality, health caution

Multiple wildfires burning in and around the Central Valley, including one in Del Puerto Canyon in Patterson, are creating some unhealthy air conditions for Valley residents.

As a result, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District is issuing a health caution, which will remain in place until the fires are extinguished.

Air pollution officials caution Valley residents to reduce exposure to the particulate matter emissions by remaining indoors.

PM 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 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 fire in Del Puerto Canyon is part of the SCU Lightning Complex fire being fought and monitored by Cal Fire. It includes 20 fires in three zones - Deer, Calaveras and Canyon - and has burned an estimated 25,000 acres, most of which is in the Canyon Zone. It is 0 percent contained as of Tuesday afternoon.

“Overnight, crews worked hard to improve and strengthen existing control lines while aggressively attacking fires where accessible,” Cal Fire wrote in the incident update. “Challenges for firefighters include dangerous rate of spread, medium range spotting and inaccessible terrain combined with triple digit temperatures.”

A mandatory evacuation order has been issued for residents on Del Puerto Canyon Road from Frank Raines Park (Stanislaus County) west to Mines Road (Santa Clara County) due to increased fire activity on the Canyon Fire.