California fires have everyone smoking |

California fires have everyone smoking

Gardnerville Town worker Tommy Lancaster waters the hanging baskets along Main Street on Monday afternoon as smoke obscures the horizon.
Kurt Hildebrand

Smoke safety

1. Stay indoors with windows and doors closed; run air-conditioner on “recirculate” setting. Keep the fresh-air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside. Minimize the use of swamp coolers. If it becomes too warm indoors, individuals may consider leaving the area to seek alternative shelter.

2. Do not add to indoor pollution. When smoke levels are high, do not use anything that burns, such as candles, fireplaces, or gas stoves. Do not vacuum, because vacuuming stirs up particles already inside your home. Do not smoke, because smoking puts even more pollution into the air.

3. Follow your doctor’s advice about medicines and about your respiratory management plan if you have asthma or another lung disease, Call your doctor if your symptoms worsen. If you evacuate, make sure you take all essential medications along with you.

4. Do not rely on dust masks or N95 respirators for protection. If you wish to wear something, use a wet handkerchief or bandana to cover your mouth and nose. The key – keep it moist.

5. When driving make sure to drive with the windows rolled up and the air conditioner on “recirculate.”

6. Minimize or stop outdoor activities, especially exercise, during smoky conditions.

7. People who must spend time outdoors should drink plenty of fluids.

8. Additionally, pet owners should consider bringing their pets indoors out of the unhealthy air conditions, if possible. This is especially important for older pets.

9. Stay tuned to local radio and TV for emergency announcements about air quality.

10. Stay in touch with family and friends, especially if you live alone. Exercise your communications plan.

With uncontained fires burning in all directions, it appears that smoke and haze will continue in Carson Valley for the foreseeable future.

Hazardous air quality levels resulted in the closure of Wednesday’s Lampe Park Farmers Market.

Sierra Chef made the announcement on Monday afternoon after smoke levels red-lined for six hours earlier that day.

An attempt to keep smoke out of the Starbucks plant resulted in the evacuation of more than 200 employees on Tuesday morning.

Workers reported a strong smell of natural gas in the building, according to East Fork Battalion Chief Scott Fraser.

Fraser said both East Fork and Southwest Gas searched the building and narrowed the issue to a lack of circulation in and out of the building.

He said the plant will have to adjust the air handling system to balance the smoke against the need for fresh air.

Fraser said residents need to ensure they keep fresh air circulating at some level, despite the smoke.

As a result of the smoke, Douglas County Mosquito Abatement is suspending ground and aerial adulticide spraying.

“The smoke particles interfere with ULV droplets designed to kill the mosquitoes,” Director Krista Jenkins said Tuesday. “This make the applications ineffective.”

Jenkins said that as soon as the air quality improves, applications will start up again.

A dense smoke advisory was issued on Monday morning for much of Western Nevada by the National Weather Service, lasting through 7 p.m.

“Currently, the worst air quality conditions are in Alpine and Douglas counties, especially around Gardnerville where air quality is in the hazardous range,” forecasters said. “Light winds through early afternoon means conditions will be slow to improve.”

Visibility at Minden-Tahoe Airport dropped to 1.5 miles on Monday morning before starting to clear slightly. By 3 p.m. visibility was back up to eight miles.

According to the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health, people with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should move activities indoors and avoid prolonged or heavy exertion. Everyone else should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion.

“Particulate matter from massive fires continue to pollute our air and can irritate eyes, skin, throat and lungs, causing chest tightening and pain, stinging eyes, headaches and sore throats, and can worsen sinus and ear infections,” said Chief Medical Officer for Nevada Dr. Ihsan Azzam. “The very young and very old, pregnant women, and those with heart and lung conditions, especially asthma and COPD patients, are most susceptible to side effects from wildfire smoke. It is strongly recommended for Nevada residents to avoid heavy activity and monitor the air quality index before spending extended periods outdoors. Please stay indoors and keep your doors and windows closed to limit your home’s exposure to smoke. Additionally, please avoid heat exposure and consume adequate amounts of fluids to prevent dehydration.”

Smoke should continue to lower air quality thanks in part to the Donnell fire, which closed Sonora Pass and the Pacific Crest Trail.

Reno Meteorologist Zach Tolby said light winds will continue to allow smoke from the 14,000-acre fire west of the Sierra Crest to fill eastern Sierra valleys.

“The fire is burning primarily along the north bank of the Middle Fork of the Stanislaus River in steep and inaccessible terrain with heavy standing dead and down timber,” fire officials said. “Due to the other large fires in the region and state, firefighters and equipment are extremely scarce.

“Handcrews, engines, and equipment have been ordered and are pending. Other local incident management teams are sharing aircraft and personnel as they can.”