Forest Fire Smoke Poses Regional Air Problems

Forest Fire Smoke Poses Regional Air Problems

13 September 2006

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Sacramento, CA, USA — Health officials are reminding residents of the suburbs east of Sacramento to stay indoors as much as possible as heavy smoke from a forest fire near Foresthill continues to blanket the region.

Officials said smoke from the Ralston fire is also choking the air in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.

The blaze, which started last week, has consumed about 7,300 acres so far.

Officials with the U.S. Forest Service and California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said the blaze is about half contained. No estimate has been given for full containment.

More than 1,300 people are fighting the fire, which began Sept. 5. The cause remains under investigation.

Officials expected the fire to be active today. Rolling logs from fire-damaged trees continue to challenge firefighting efforts, a spokesman said. A strong cold front is anticipated to move over the fire area Thursday, bringing westerly winds gusting up to 30 mph.

Crews are working to hold the fire south of the North Fork of the American River and north of the Rubicon River. Immediate threat to the communities of Volcanoville and Michigan Bluff has diminished and resources assigned to those areas have been reduced.

The following areas are closed to the public:

* Mosquito Ridge Road, from Foresthill Road to Robinson Flat Road
* Blacksmith Flat Road, from Mosquito Ridge Road to Ramsy Crossing
* Ralston Ridge Road, from Blacksmith Flat Road to French House.

A community information meeting will take place at 6 p.m. tonight at Georgetown Elementary School.

A health warning has been issued in the Sacramento area and the northern part of the San Joaquin Valley. Those with health problems or who are otherwise sensitive to poor air quality are being asked to limit their outdoor exposure.

Officials urge people in the affected areas to:

* Avoid strenuous work or exercise outside.
* Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and keep your airway moist and able to cope with smoke particles.
* Avoid the use of paper masks, which do not provide much protection and can actually restrict air flow.

Air quality officials also declared a “Spare the Air Day,” asking commuters to carpool or avoid driving, if possible.


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