The multiple wildfires in and around the Valley continue to cause smoke impacts in all counties in the Valley Air basin. During this week, PM2.5 concentrations have continued to increase, leading to very unhealthy air quality throughout the region. As a result, the District is re-issuing a health warning, which will remain in effect until the fires are extinguished. The District anticipates that poor air quality will affect the Valley over the weekend and warns residents to stay inside.
The SCU Lighting Complex Fire, located in several northern counties, including Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties; the Hills Fire, located in Fresno County west of Avenal near Highway 33; the CZU August Lightning Complex Fire, located in several locations in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties; and the Lake Fire located in Los Angeles County southeast of Lebec are producing smoke that is infiltrating the San Joaquin Valley, which includes San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare and the Valley portion of Kern County. Air pollution officials warn Valley residents to reduce exposure to particulate matter (PM) emissions by staying indoors in the affected areas.
Particle contamination can cause asthma attacks, aggravate chronic bronchitis and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. People with heart or lung disease should follow their doctors’ advice to deal with episodes of PM exposure. Those with existing respiratory conditions, including COVID-19, young children and seniors, are especially susceptible to the health effects of this form of contamination. Anyone experiencing poor air quality due to smoke from wildfires should move indoors, to an air-conditioned and filtered environment with the windows closed. Common cloth and paper masks used by people due to COVID-19 concerns may not protect them from smoke from wildfires.
Residents can use the District's Current Air Quality Notification System (RAAN) to check air quality at any location in the Valley by visiting myRAAN.com. The District's air monitoring stations are designed to detect microscopic PM 2.5 particles that exist in the smoke. However, larger particles, such as ash, may not be detected. If you smell smoke or see falling ash, consider air quality as "unhealthy" (RAAN Level 4 or higher) even if RAAN shows a lower level of contamination.
The public can also check the District's wildfires page at www.valleyair.org/wildfires for information on current and past wildfires affecting the Valley. In addition, anyone can follow the air quality conditions in the free "Valley Air" app on their mobile phone.
For more information, visit www.valleyair.org or call a District office in Fresno (559-230-6000), Modesto (209-557-6400) or Bakersfield (661-392-5500).