Break in smoke could come over weekend |

Break in smoke could come over weekend

The statue of Larry Willson on horseback greets yet another smoky sunrise in Minden on Sept. 6, 2013.
Kurt Hildebrand |

A shift in the winds forecast for late tonight could bring the clearest skies Carson Valley has seen since smoke from the Rim fire started pouring in on Aug. 22.

While the 371-square-mile fire continues to smoke in the western portion of Yosemite National Park, a west wind should push smoke away from Carson Valley and give residents a chance to clear their lungs.

Fire officials, who don’t expect to have a line around the fire until Sept. 20, say much of their work now is dousing parts of the fire burning within its boundaries, while trying to hold it in the windy conditions that prevailed.

That wind, while coming from the direction of the fire, helped scrub out the smoke with air quality at the Ranchos Aspen Park monitor reading from a high of 171, or unhealthy, at 11 a.m. improving to a low of 40 by 2 p.m.

The National Weather Service is forecasting continued smoke in the Valley on Friday. West to northwest winds are expected to continue to blow until early Sunday morning.

Douglas High School soccer and golf were canceled due to air quality on Wednesday. The Douglas County School District is keeping students indoors until the air quality gets better.

Heavy smoke has been plaguing the Carson Valley for two weeks, when high winds picked up what had been a fairly small forest fire and turned it into the fourth largest fire in California history.

Summit Cleaning Services’s Stephen Jaenchen said he expects to get a lot of calls from people after the smoke clears.

“I anticipate we’ll be inundated with people who want things fresh and clean again,” he said.

The smoke has affected most people in the Valley, he said.

“There are very few people who haven’t been affected by it,” he said. “Smoke equals danger and we’ve had this low level of ongoing stress. Even subconsciously it’s affecting some people.”

Jaenchen said a heating and air conditioning friend of his suggested changing house air filters when the smoke is gone.

“Smoke has a very small molecule and it can get into places where it’s hard to remove,” he said. “If you have had a bad furnace filter or the windows open in the smoke, it can get in a lot of places.”