Monday, September 28, 2020

UPDATE: Smoky Skies Throughout the Region; Air Quality and Fire Updates

Posted By on Mon, Sep 28, 2020 at 5:35 PM

click to enlarge Smoke moving into the Mattole Valley late yesterday. - J BRADLEY BURNS
  • J Bradley Burns
  • Smoke moving into the Mattole Valley late yesterday.
Air Quality Update:

UPDATE:

Fortuna and communities in the Eel River drainage as well as Garberville, Shelter Cove, and surrounding communities were added to the list of places with advisories for Unhealthy to Very Unhealthy air quality over the next 24 hours due to fires in the region.

PREVIOUS:

The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag warning for the majority of Humboldt, Del Norte and Trinity counties.

According to today's air quality update, gusty east and northeast winds combined with hot temperatures, low humidity values, and dry vegetation will yield a critical fire weather threat through this evening. Areas of poor air quality are expected today through Wednesday.

An Air Quality Advisory for Unhealthy to Very Unhealthy air quality has been issued for the areas of Willow Creek, Weitchpec and Hoopa.

Smoke impacts will continue to reach unhealthy to very unhealthy until tomorrow.

Areas from Rio Dell to Trinidad will see Moderate air quality with periods of Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups to Unhealthy depending on proximity and elevation. Garberville and Redway will see also see Moderate air quality with periods of Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups with periods of Unhealthy conditions depending on fire activity.

Read the full update below.

The Red Salmon Complex Fire:

116,728 acres with 31 percent containment

The Red Salmon complex is burning about 8 miles northeast of Willow Creek, on the Klamath, Six Rivers, and Shasta-Trinity National Forests within Humboldt, Siskiyou, and Trinity Counties and was ignited by a lightning strike on July 27.

Warmer and dryer weather conditions are expected to affect the complex fire as a Red Flag warning is in effect until this evening.

Temperatures are expected to range from the lower 80’s on the lower slopes and valleys, to the mid-90s in the valleys. The relative humidity is predicted to be between 10-20 percent.

"Easterly winds could reach speeds between 15-20, with gusts as high as 30 mph. These conditions have caused the fire activity to increase throughout the day Sunday and into Monday morning. Islands of unburned fuel within the fire’s interior began burning more actively, contributing to the accumulation of smoke in the surrounding communities," today's update states.

The fire crews will continue to work on monitoring the fire and looking for opportunities to improve containment lines along the road to Cecilville east of the fire. While south crews are monitoring the area while continuing to secure containment lines along the ridge.

A temporary flight restriction is placed in the area northeast of Orleans, along with an evacuation warning for Forks of Salmon. The Klamath and Six Rivers National Forests closures have been extended through Sept. 30, however, the closures may be extended depending on fire activity.

The Slater and Devil Fires:

Slater: 154,102 acres, 38 percent containment
Devil 8,410 acres, 18 percent containment

The Slater Devil fire started on Sept. 8, the cause of the fires are still under investigation, however, crews are working to hold and improve the lines from the
Oregon/California border on the west side of Highway 199 east to the
Sucker Creek area, while crews near Happy Camp and the Thompson Creek areas are continuing digging line as close to the fire as they can and use small firing operations where necessary for the Slater fire.

As for the Devil fire, crews are have made good progress on the southeast side of the fire and on the southwest corner of the fire. Firefighters continue to build line along the southwest side and are mopping up hotspots and cleaning up the line as they go.

Current weather conditions of predicted high winds, temperatures, low relative humidity and very dry fuels can create conditions for any new fire starts to spread rapidly. Officials warn residents to use caution while recreating in the area.

The North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District Air Quality Update
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Several fires continue to impact our region with smoke: Red Salmon Complex (https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6891), August Complex (https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6983), Slater/Devil Fire (https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7173/)  and Zogg Fire.  USFS Air Resource Advisors (ARAs) are assigned to fires impacting our area and provide daily smoke outlook forecasts within our jurisdiction. No Air Quality ALERTs have been issued today.  Air quality monitors and current AQI can be viewed at https://fire.airnow.gov.

The National Weather Service has issued Red Flag Warnings for the majority of Humboldt, Del Norte and Trinity Counties.  Gusty east and northeast winds combined with hot temperatures, low humidity values, and dry vegetation will yield a critical fire weather threat through this evening. High temperatures are expected near the coast and across interior valleys today and Tuesday.  Areas of poor air quality are expected today through Wednesday.

The ARA’s on the fires indicate northeast winds will move smoke towards the coast.  Areas east of the fires should expect improved air quality.  Coastal areas and inlands portions west of the fires should see increased smoke impacts as the winds subside and remains terrain driven.  Stagnant conditions will develop along with lighter winds and smoke will become terrain driven later this week.  Smoke will settle into the valleys each night and morning.  Beginning tonight and into the week warmer temperatures and lighter winds will create stagnant conditions resulting in worsening air quality for Humboldt, Del Norte and Trinity Counties.

Humboldt County – An Air Quality ADVISORY is issued today for Hoopa, Weitchpec and Willow Creek.

· Eureka (including Rio Dell to Trinidad) – Moderate with periods of Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups to Unhealthy depending on proximity and elevation.

· Orleans – Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups to Unhealthy conditions depending on fire activity.

· Weitchpec – Unhealthy to Very Unhealthy conditions.

· Hoopa – Unhealthy to Very Unhealthy conditions.

· Willow Creek – Unhealthy to Very Unhealthy conditions.

· Garberville & Redway – Moderate with periods of Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups with periods of Unhealthy conditions depending on fire activity.

Del Norte County – No Air Quality ADVISORY issued today.

· Crescent City – Good to Moderate with periods of Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups conditions depending on fire activity.

· Gasquet – Good to Moderate with periods of Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups conditions depending on fire activity.

· Klamath – Moderate conditions today worsening to Unhealthy by Tuesday depending on fire activity.

Trinity County No Air Quality ADVISORY issued today.

· Weaverville and surrounding communities – Good with periods of Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups or Unhealthy by Tuesday morning.

· Hayfork – Generally Good with periods of Unhealthy conditions by Tuesday morning.

· Trinity Center – Good air quality conditions.

· Ruth, Zenia-Kettenpom – Moderate to Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups to Unhealthy conditions depending on fire activity.

· Trinity Pines – Moderate conditions expected during the day, depending on fire behavior.

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Particulate Matter (PM2.5) monitors are located in Crescent City, Gasquet, Eureka, Weaverville, Hoopa, Weitchpec, Willow Creek, Klamath, Trinity Center, Bridgeville, and Garberville.  Updates will be provided as conditions change.

Fire information can be found at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/ or https://fire.airnow.gov/.   Current weather information can be found at www.wrh.noaa.gov.

As with all wildfires, ash fallout is possible depending on fire activity and proximity to the fires.  Ash fallout information can be found in the Wildfire Smoke Resources section of our webpage at www.ncuaqmd.org.

Health Information for Smoke Impacts

Concentrations of smoke may vary depending upon location, weather, and distance from the fire. Smoke from wildfires and structure fires contain harmful chemicals that can affect your health. Smoke can cause eye and throat irritation, coughing, and difficulty breathing.  People who are at greatest risk of experiencing symptoms due to smoke include: those with respiratory disease (such as asthma), those with heart disease, young children, and older adults.

These sensitive populations should stay indoors and avoid prolonged activity. All others should limit prolonged or heavy activity and time spent outdoors. Even healthy adults can be affected by smoke. Seek medical help if you have symptoms that worsen or become severe.

Follow these general precautions to protect your health during a smoke event:

· Minimize or stop outdoor activities, especially exercise.

· Stay indoors with windows and doors closed as much as possible.

· Do not run fans that bring smoky outdoor air inside – examples include swamp coolers, whole-house fans, and fresh air ventilation systems.

· Run your air-conditioner only if it does not bring smoke in from the outdoors. Change the standard air conditioner filter to a medium or high efficiency filter. If available, use the “re-circulate” or “recycle” setting on the unit.

· Do not smoke, fry food, or do other things that will create indoor air pollution.

If you have lung disease (including asthma) or heart disease, closely monitor your health and contact your doctor if you have symptoms that worsen.

Consider leaving the area until smoke conditions improve if you have repeated coughing, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness or pain, palpitations, nausea, unusual fatigue, lightheadedness.

Updated guidance from the CDC is available on reducing wildfire smoke exposure given COVID-19 considerations:  https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/covid-19/reduce_exposure_to_wildfire_smoke_covid-19.html.

 For further information, visit the District’s website at www.ncuaqmd.org or call the District’s Wildfire Response Coordinator at (707) 443-3093 x122.


The Air Quality Advisory Release
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Smoke impacts may continue to reach Unhealthy to Very Unhealthy conditions over the next 24 hours in the communities indicated above (Weitchpec, Hoopa and Willow Creek).  This forecast is expected to remain in effect until September 29, 2020.  Updates will be provided as conditions change.  No air quality ALERT for Hazardous conditions was issued today.  Air quality monitors and current AQI can be viewed at https://fire.airnow.gov

Particulate Matter (PM2.5) monitors are located in Crescent City, Gasquet, Eureka, Fortuna, Weaverville, Hoopa, Weitchpec, Willow Creek, Klamath, Trinity Center, Bridgeville, and Garberville. Updates will be provided as conditions change.  Fire information can be found at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/ or https://fire.airnow.gov/. Current weather information can be found at www.wrh.noaa.gov.  

For more information, please see the NCUAQMD’s Public Service Announcements for recommendations on limiting smoke exposure on our website at www.ncuaqmd.org or call the District’s Wildfire Response Coordinator at (707) 443-3093 x122.


The Red Salmon Complex
The Slater Devil Fire
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Iridian Casarez

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Iridian Casarez is a staff writer at the North Coast Journal.

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