An eerie orange sky blankets much of the West Coast as fires continue to burn through a record amount of acreage. According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), there are now over 100 active large wildfires burning in the US. There have been at least a dozen confirmed deaths on the West Coast with many more people unaccounted for.
California Fires: At the latest update, there have been over three million acres consumed in this round of California wildfires. The fires are responsible for the destruction of at least 3,900 structures. Over 14,000 firefighters are now on the scene to battle the blazes that continue to put people and structure in harm’s way. Here is the latest on just a few of the biggest fires in California.Read More »
- Creek Fire – The Creek Fire is raging in the Sierra National Forest in the central part of the state. So far, this fire has consumed over 176,000 acres along with 360 structures. While the fire is not at all contained, authorities are hopeful that the return of lower temperatures on Friday will aid in the containment efforts.
- August Complex Fire – Located in Tehama County, this blaze is now the biggest current fire in the state. The fire has burned through nearly 500,000 acres and is now 24% contained.
- North Complex Fire – Located in far Northern California, the North Complex Fire is actually a combination of various blazes that have merged together. This fire has burned nearly 250,000 acres and is 23% contained as of Friday morning. According to Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea, at least a dozen people are missing and three people are dead as a result of the fire.
- El Dorado Fire – Infamous for being sparked by a gender reveal party pyrotechnic device, the El Dorado fire has now scorched 12,600 acres in San Bernardino County while being only 23% contained.
Oregon Fires: According to Gov. Kate Brown, approximately 500,000 Oregonians have been evacuated from their homes in the last few days. That is nearly 10% of the state’s total population, putting into perspective the scope of the fires.
The small southern Oregon towns of Talent and Phoenix have been hit particularly hard by the Almeda Drive fire. Satellite images show the destruction of numerous structures in this area of approximately 11,000 people. Authorities have attributed two deaths and four injuries to the Almeda Drive fire.
Washington Fires: Eastern Washington is ground zero for the wildfires in the Evergreen State. According to Whitman County Sheriff Brett Myers, the town of Malden has been nearly wiped out as the result of a fast-moving fire. Located about 35 miles south of Spokane, approximately 80% of the homes and structures in the town were destroyed.
Over 300,000 acres have been burned since Monday in the state of Washington. Residents all across the state are being warned about shifting winds that will lead to deteriorating conditions and poor air quality on Friday and Saturday. A cool front is expected on Sunday, hopefully helping to bring relief to the parched region.
Poor Air Quality: While the loss of life and structures is certainly the most devastating outcome of these fires, the poor air quality is also affecting millions of people in the region. The scene looks like something out of a dystopian novel in the Bay Area. The rust-hued sky hovered over San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley as rain fell down in the form of ash from the fires.
The scene was not much better in Southern California. Residents of Los Angeles were met with the worst air quality index in over 25 years years. According to the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the record-breaking heatwave last week has only served to make the problem worse. A smoke advisory is in effect for the majority of Los Angeles County as well as in some parts of Riverside, Orange, and San Bernardino counties.
In some areas of the Golden State, the skies were so dark that it appeared to be dusk in the middle of the day. Air quality was not much better moving up the coast through Oregon and Washington. Forecasters in Seattle are warning residents to prepare for another round of hazardous air quality on Friday as a weather system moves the smoke from the fires in Oregon northward.
How to Guard Your Health During These Smokey Times: You do not have to have underlying health issues to be affected by the constant threat of smoke over the region. Even those otherwise healthy individuals can suffer ill effects when breathing in this air. While most everyone has a cloth mask on hand these days, it is important to note that these types of masks do not provide protection from the smoke. However, an N95 mask or an N100 respirator will provide some degree of protection from the harmful smoke particles.
In addition, those in the path of the smoke should stay indoors with the windows closed and sealed. It is also a good idea to set your ventilation to recirculate mode so that you are not bringing in the harmful smoke to your safe space.
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