Air Quality advisory: wildfire smoke might move into Bay Area

- Oakland, Calif. (KTVU) - Shifting winds could blow smoky air from the Mendocino Complex Fires into the inland parts of the Bay Area starting Friday and extending through the weekend.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District issued an air quality advisory Thursday due to the winds.

"That means those fires to the north of us are going to sweeping smoke down towards the Bay Area," said Tom Flannigan, an Bay Area Air District spokesman, "So places like Santa Rosa, and to the far East Bay like Livermore out to the Walnut Creek area." 

Flannigan says the particulate levels might be elevated, but they won't be as bad as North Bay residents experienced during last October's fires. 

"During that time, we saw the highest levels of air pollution ever recorded in the Bay Area," said Flannigan. 

At Margin General Hospital, respiratory therapist Paige Brown-Kelly says the smoke is dangerous. She says the threat is not limited to the elderly, children and people with respiratory conditions such as asthma. 

"We need to take this smoke seriously, because it includes toxic chemicals. There's burning plastic, there's tires, there's cars, things that create particles that aren't good for anybody to breathe in," said Brown-Kelly.

She says people should be aware of symptoms.

"Some of the symptoms include headaches, burning eyes, runny nose, a sore throat, wheezing when you're breathing and increased mucus production," said Brown-Kelly.

Thick smoke from the Carr Fire in Redding has already prompted air quality warnings in the Sacramento area. The worst air quality is east of the state capitol in areas around Auburn, Rocklin, and along the I-80 corridor leading to Lake Tahoe.

The San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department announced that it is now extending the closure of Camp Mather until August 12th because of hazardous smoke from the Ferguson Fire near Yosemite.

The Bay Area Air Quality District says for now, they don't expect to issue a Spare the Air alert, but will be monitoring the air.

"We measure air pollution every hour on the hour and we put out reports on our website," said Flannigan.

The EPA has a website where residents can see the air quality index for their neighborhoods. The website is www.airnow.gov and residents can type in their zip code to see the pollution level. 
 

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