SoCal Fires Create Unhealthy Air Quality for Residents, Officials Say

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A police car passes by a flaming hillside during the Saddleridge fire in Newhall, California on Oct. 11, 2019. (Credit: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images).

A police car passes by a flaming hillside during the Saddleridge fire in Newhall, California on Oct. 11, 2019. (Credit: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images).

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Authorities extended the smoke advisory for Los Angeles County on Saturday as the Saddleridge Fire ripped through the San Fernando Valley, sending thick smoke billowing over the area.

The fire that set the San Fernando Valley ablaze Thursday night choked the air with smoke and continued to create unhealthy conditions in a state already plagued with bad air quality.

Satellite and webcam imagery show the fire produced visible smoke that continued to blow southward as of Saturday morning, according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District. The air pollution agency is responsible for regulating stationary sources of air pollution in much of Southern California.

Advisories for Riverside County have been lifted, according to AQMD.

Concentrations of toxins in the air are high throughout the entire San Fernando Valley, as well as areas west of central Los Angeles and coastal areas west of the 110 Freeway, according to an AQMD smoke advisory.

Reseda, North Hollywood and Pacoima are also showing elevated concentrations, resulting in “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” levels on Saturday morning.

Air quality will also be unhealthy for sensitive individuals on Sunday in the Santa Clarita Valley, Antelope Valley and San Gabriel Mountains, according to the AQMD forecast.

The National Weather Service extended a red flag warning through 6 p.m. Saturday due to dangerous fire weather conditions from four wildfires burning in the region. Gusty offshore winds and low humidity are expected in the affected areas of Los Angeles and Ventura County mountains, Ventura County valleys, San Fernando Valley and Santa Clarita Valley.

Winds near the Saddleridge Fire are expected to shift midday – and to push the smoke north. Shifting winds Saturday evening may bringing more smoke into the San Fernando Valley, possibly reaching the Pasadena area, according to an AQMD advisory.

Changing winds on Sunday morning may help reduce smoke concentrations.

“It is difficult to tell where smoke, ash or soot from a fire will go, or how winds will affect the level of these particles in the air, so we ask everyone to remember that smoke and ash can be harmful to health, even for people who are healthy,” said Muntu Davis, health officer for Los Angeles County. “If you can see smoke, soot, or ash, or you can smell smoke, pay attention to your immediate environment and take precautions to safeguard your health.”

Children, older adults and people with heart or lung diseases are particularly vulnerable, Davis said.

ADMQ recommends staying indoors with windows and doors closed and avoiding vigorous physical activity. The agency also suggests running an air conditioner with a clean filter to recirculate the indoor air, and to avoid using any wood-burning appliances, including fireplaces and candles.

A map  shows the air quality in Southern California as of 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 12, 2019. (Credit: South Coast Air Quality Management District). See interactive map here.

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