USA – Smoke coming from two fires burning in the forests in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties could bring air quality down to unhealthy levels in Southern California.
Many areas in the region reported ash falling from the Bobcat and El Dorado fires on Monday, the South Coast Air Quality Management District said. Smoke mainly affected communities in Yucaipa, west Coachella Valley, Santa Clarita and those near the Santa Monica, San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains.
While air quality on the ground has stayed in the “good” to “moderate” level, smoke higher in the atmosphere has caused ash fall and reduced visibility, according to SCAQMD.
The air quality near the Bobcat Fire in the Angeles National Forest and the El Dorado Fire in San Bernardino National Forest will likely stay poor on Tuesday, the agency said.
Starting in the afternoon, Santa Ana winds are expected to blow the smoke toward the southwest.
The San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains, as well as Crestline, Running Springs and Big Bear, could see “some gradual clearing, but smoke transport from other fires in Central and Northern California may still produce smoky skies,” SCAQMD said in an advisory.
Meanwhile, most of the smoke in the Coachella Valley and eastern Riverside County should leave the area mid-day when Santa Ana winds pick up.
Officials expect the winds to bring the smoke to areas in direct proximity of the fires, where the air could reach unhealthy levels. Those areas include Sierra Madre, Duarte, Monrovia, Azusa, Glendora, Yucaipa, Mentone and Redlands.
Onshore winds could potentially spare areas south of the 210 Freeway, northern Orange County and some parts of the Inland Empire of poor air quality.
“There is still considerable forecast uncertainty in the strength of the onshore winds relative to the Santa Anas in the valleys,” SCAQMD said. “If the onshore winds are strong enough, smoke from the El Dorado and Bobcat fires will largely be isolated to higher altitudes, yet ashfall may still occur. If the onshore winds are not strong enough, air quality could reach Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups AQI levels in these regions.”
“Areas of blowing sand and blowing dust are predicted throughout this wind event, which may result in Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups or higher AQI levels in the San Bernardino area, through San Gorgonio Pass, and the Coachella Valley,” the district said.
In L.A. County, health officials reminded the public of the danger of poor air quality, especially to children, older adults and people with heart and lung conditions. In addition to residents in the San Gabriel Valley, authorities also warned those in central L.A. and the southeast and south-central portion of the county.
The county’s Health Department issued the following recommendations:
Keep windows and door closed.
Avoid using air conditioning units that have no recirculating option and only take air from outside.
Check air conditioning filters and replace them as needed.
Use indoor air filtration devices with HEPA filters.
Visit a public cooling center if a home does not have air conditioning and it’s too hot to keep the door and windows closed.
Avoid using candles and vacuums.
Clean dusty surfaces indoors with a damp cloth.
Do not smoke.
Contact a doctor, go to an urgent care center or dial 911 if experiencing symptoms of a lung or heart condition that could be related to smoke exposure. Symptoms could include severe coughing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness or pain, palpitations, nausea, unusual fatigue and lightheadedness.
Avoid leaving pets outside, especially at night. Dogs and cats that display respiratory distress should be taken to an animal hospital. Symptoms include an inability to catch their breath. They may be less noticeable in cats than in dogs.