MENDOCINO Co., 8/30/23 — Smoke is covering much of the North Coast today due to fires in in Humboldt and Del Norte counties as well as southern Oregon, and the Mendocino County Air Quality Management District has issued an air quality advisory warning of ongoing poor air quality in the “unhealthy range,” from August 30 through Labor Day, September 4. The advisory notes that ongoing “unhealthy” air quality may continue through the weekend across most of Mendocino County, although shifting air currents and the chance of precipitation over the weekend could lead to improved conditions.
Poor air quality can cause a number of health effects, and people working outdoors should consider reducing activities or taking precautions such as wearing a NIOSH-certified N95 or P100 mask. We’ve included some additional tips on how to stay safe and improve indoor air quality below, and you can find specific air quality information for your area here: https://fire.airnow.gov/.
The smoke is from active fires including the South Fork Complex, Six Rivers Lightning Complex, and the Smith River Complex; more information about current Cal Fire incidents can be found here. Local emergency officials have requested that people do not call 9-1-1 if they only smell smoke, but to do so if they see flames or a defined column of smoke — and to have specific location details if so.
The only active fire burning in Mendocino County is the Golden Fire, which began August 27 south of Willits and was 95% contained at 11.54 acres as of this afternoon, according to Cal Fire Mendocino’s most recent update. However, there is currently a red flag warning in effect for some parts of Mendocino County and Lake County until Wednesday evening.
Here’s the air quality forecast according to the Air District advisory; the full advisory is included at the bottom of this article.
“Expect widespread haze and smoke impacts for most of Mendocino County in the next few days. The extended meteorological forecast is better air quality by this weekend with increased ventilation and a chance of precipitation. Fire weather conditions with persistent high pressure may bring impacts of “Unhealthy” air and smoke accumulation to valley areas. Air quality levels for inland and coastal areas are expected to be in the “Moderate” to “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” with possible improvements by Friday. While surrounding wildfires are active, expect unpredictable smoke impacts to air quality followed by multiple periods of some relief through the next few days.”
Here are some tips from CARB on how to protect yourself, your family and pets from the dangers of wildfire smoke:
Avoid outdoor activities
- People should avoid exercising outdoors during smoky conditions. Exposure and the resulting health effects depend on the amount of time spent outside, level of exertion, level of air pollution, and possible existing health conditions.
- Consider eliminating outdoor activities altogether when the AQI reaches unhealthy levels.
- Officials may call for an evacuation in emergency situations or when the AQI reaches the hazardous level. Always follow evacuation orders. In the event of an evacuation, make sure to operate your vehicle with the windows rolled up and the air conditioner set to recirculate.
Stay indoors and keep indoor air clean
The best way to prevent breathing harmful particles in wildfire smoke is to stay indoors.
- When air quality reaches dangerous levels due to wildfire smoke, the most effective way to reduce exposure and avoid the ill effects of smoke is to stay indoors with windows and doors closed.
- If you have a central ducted air conditioning and heating system, be sure to set the system to “on” to ensure air is being filtered constantly, rather than “auto,” which runs the system intermittently.
- If your system brings fresh air into the home, close the fresh-air intake so that it operates in in recirculation mode to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside.
- Install a high-efficiency filter (MERV 13 rating or higher) with a MERV rating as high as your system can handle, based on the manufacturer’s recommendation.
- Consider using a CARB-certified air cleaner which can greatly reduce indoor particle levels to further reduce impacts from smoke.
- Do not run swamp coolers or whole house fans.
- Avoid activities that increase indoor pollution, such as burning candles, using gas stoves and vacuuming.