Heavy Smoke From Numerous Fires Raging in SoCal Leads to Multiple Smoke Advisories and Air Quality Warnings

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As the result of numerous fires raging across Southern California over the past week, heavy smoke has led to multiple air quality and smoke advisories across the region prompting many residents to take measures for breathing safely.

On Sunday, a smoke advisory for the greater Los Angeles area was extended through Monday morning by the South Coast Air Quality Management District. Strong northeast winds are expected to bring smoke from the Creek Fire, Rye Fire and Skirball Fire to the western portion of Los Angeles County.

Areas impacted by the smoke and air quality include the San Fernando Valley, coastal areas of Los Angeles County, Lake Elsinore and Temecula Valley, SCAQMD said.

Also on Sunday, a smoke forecast outlook for areas affected by smoke from the Thomas Fire was issued by the air pollution districts for Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

A satellite photo from NASA shows multiple columns of gray-brown smoke coming from the Thomas Fire that is raging in Ventura County on Dec. 7, 2017.
A satellite photo from NASA shows multiple columns of gray-brown smoke coming from the Thomas Fire raging in Ventura County on Dec. 7, 2017.

Goleta was given an unhealthy air quality index while Santa Barbara was issued a very unhealthy air quality index. Lompoc and the Santa Ynez Valley were issued an unhealthy for sensitive groups air quality index, while a moderate air quality index was issued for San Luis Obispo and Santa Maria.

In Ventura County, a smoke advisory was extended on Sunday with officials noting that the strong Santa Ana wind event is sending heavy smoke in and around the cities of Ventura, Oxnard, Santa Paula and Ojai.

The VCAPCD issued a very unhealthy/hazardous air quality warning for Ojai and a high moderate air quality for El Rio. They said that air quality is good everywhere else.

The advisories spread all the way down the coast to San Diego County, where the air pollution control district issued a smoke advisory that will continue through Sunday. Smoke from the Lilac Fire could impact Chula Vista, Del Mar, downtown San Diego, Kearny Mesa and Oceanside. All of these cities have a forecasted moderate air quality index.

Tips to Breath Safely 

From the California Department of Public Health:

  • The most effective way to protect yourself from smoke inhalation is to remain indoors. You should also limit your time outdoors when there is smoke in the air.
  • It is recommended that if you must be outside in smoky air for an extended period of time that you should wear a tight-fitting respirator to reduce exposure to the smoke. Wearing a respirator can make breathing harder if you have heart or lung problems and you should consult a doctor before using one.

From the Center for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Pay attention to news or health warnings regarding smoke in your area by checking local air quality reports.
  • Keep the air indoors as clean as possible. You can accomplish this by keeping windows and doors closed and by using an air conditioner to keep your home cool. Make sure you keep the fresh-air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent outdoor smoke from entering the home. If you do not have an air conditioner and the conditions inside your home are too warm, you are advised to seek shelter at an evacuation center or shelter away from the affected area.
  • Refrain from activities that could increase indoor pollution. This includes burning candles, using fireplaces or gas stoves that can increase indoor pollution. You should also refrain from vacuuming as it stirs up particles already in the home. You should also not smoke inside the home as it puts more pollution in the air.
  • Dust masks should not be relied on for breathing. Paper masks found in hardware stores are designed to keep large particles, like sawdust, out. These masks will not filter particles found in smoke.
  • Consider evacuating if you are struggling with breathing.

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