Environment

Air quality alert: Smoke from California wildfires is impacting SLO County

Dramatic photos show destruction, flames blazing at the Carr Fire

Firefighters battle a flare-up near Buckhorn Summit on Hwy 299 during the Carr Fire in Trinity County on Monday, July 30, 2018, as families begin to return to burned areas in Redding.
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Firefighters battle a flare-up near Buckhorn Summit on Hwy 299 during the Carr Fire in Trinity County on Monday, July 30, 2018, as families begin to return to burned areas in Redding.

Air quality in San Luis Obispo County this week will be impacted by smoke from the wildfires burning throughout the state.

The San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District (APCD) and the County Health Department issued an alert on Monday warning residents about a spreading smoke plume that’s causing a decline in air quality, especially in Paso Robles, Atascadero and the Carrizo Plain area.

The smoke is coming from wildfires that have scorched hundreds of thousands of acres of land throughout Northern, Central and Southern California.

Among the biggest blazes still burning are the Carr Fire in Shasta County, which has burned more than 110,000 acres and killed six people, and the Ferguson Fire in Mariposa County, which has scorched more than 57,000 acres, killed two firefighters and temporarily closed Yosemite Valley.

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Although air quality in San Luis Obispo County remains good along the coast and in San Luis Obispo, hazy skies are still expected, according to the alert.

Winds are currently pushing the smoke east, but those patterns could change, said Gary Arcemont, an APCD meteorologist and air quality specialist.

“I think people should be aware,” Arcemont said. “If they start smelling smoke, that’s really a key thing.”

Individuals with existing respiratory illnesses and heart conditions should be careful while spending time outdoors, especially if the scent of smoke is obvious.

The APCD will continue monitoring wildfire smoke throughout the county — air quality won’t completely return to normal until the blazes are contained.

“There’s no sign that the fires are really going to slow,” Arcemont said.

To learn more about the impacts of wildfire smoke and to check the APCD’s daily air quality forecast, visit slocleanair.org.

Lindsey Holden: 805-781-7939, @lindseymholden

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