Smoke, ash from Bobcat Fire in Angeles National Forest prompt air quality warning

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Los Angeles County officials warned of poor air quality caused by smoke and ash from the Bobcat Fire that continues to burn Monday in the Angeles National Forest above Azusa.

Residents in the area of the San Gabriel Mountains, east San Gabriel Valley and Pomona-Walnut Valley will be directly affected, the South Coast Air Quality Management District said.

People have reported ash in communities miles away from the blaze, according to the L.A. Times.

Winds were predicted to push the smoke toward Arcadia, Azusa, Glendora, Upland and the San Bernardino National Forest Sunday evening through Monday morning. By the afternoon, a wind shift will bring the smoke to the east and northeast into the Angeles National Forest and the San Bernardino National Forest, SCAQMD said.

In addition to those areas, smoke is affecting the Santa Clarita region and the Santa Monica Mountains, district spokesman Bradley Whitaker said. Other communities are also seeing some smoke in the “good to moderate” range, he said.

It’s likely that the SCAQMD will extend its air quality warning for Tuesday, Whitaker added.

A map from the South Coast Air Quality Management District shows the areas predicted to be affected by smoke from the Bobcat Fire in the Angeles National Forest on Sept. 7, 2020.
A map from the South Coast Air Quality Management District shows the areas predicted to be affected by smoke from the Bobcat Fire in the Angeles National Forest on Sept. 7, 2020.

Poor air quality can be especially dangerous for children, older adults and people with heart or lung conditions, health officials cautioned.

“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 Dr. Muntu Davis, health officer for L.A. 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.”

The county asked the public to avoid unnecessary outdoor exposure and limit any physical exertions outside or inside. Davis also urged recreational camps affected by the smoke to suspend hiking, picnics and other outdoor activities until conditions improve.

The L.A. Department of Public Health also recommended the following safety measures:

  • 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.

Air quality officials issued a similar warning for the Inland Empire due to the El Dorado Fire in the Yucaipa area. In fact, satellite imagery shows a large swath of California covered in smoke from the many wildfires burning across the state.

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