Wildfire smoke threatens air quality as California battles 28 major fires

California has seen 50 new fires ignite overnight and more than half are considered large complex fires, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom. 

"We now have 28 large fire complexes that we are battling here in the state of California," the governor said. "The Fork Fire, the Bear Fire up in Butte County, the Willow Fire, those three in particular points of concern."

Those wildfires sprang up in the northern part of the state. The Fork Fire in El Dorado County ignited Tuesday. The Willow Fire sparked during the early hours Wednesday and the Bear Fire, which is an extension of the North Complex, started mid-August in the Plumas National Forest.

Fire officials are especially concerned with the Bear Fire's advancement. Cal Fire said in it's most recent statewide fire summary that the wildfire spread rapidly "due to red flag conditions and moved towards multiple communities east of Oroville, and forced more evacuations." 

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As firefighters race to control the wildfires up north, he said over in the Bay Area additional progress was made on the CZU, LNU and SCU complex fires as crews worked to close in on containment. But firefighters did run into some challenges. 

"We had some issues related to the spotting of fires because of the winds from the previous 24-hour period, but we had better containment overnight," Newsom said.

Despite that, firefighters are seeing some relief. 

"We are encouraged that the wind activity appears to be dying down, which is encouraging and the rest of the week looks a little bit more favorable from a wind perspective and a weather perspective." 

Heavy layers of smoke that have blanketed parts of the state, such as in the Bay Area, have threatened air quality. The governor referenced images from all around the Bay Area of orange-yellowish skies, which are a direct result of smoke particles from wildfires sitting above the marine layer. 

"There is obvious concern around air quality," said Newsom. "An obvious concern that has been highlighted by not only those images but the reality as wind events have generated a lot more air quality problems, particularly as it relates to ash that has now created sort of an ash-dust up, [which] has impacted the air quality in and around not only the Bay Area but other parts of the state."

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In recent weeks, the Bay Area endured "unhealthy" and "hazardous" levels of air quality due to the wildfires and at one point had the worst air quality in the world, according to KQED. 

Air Quality Index (AQI) readings show that there have been slight improvements. The current AQI for most of the Bay Area is in the moderate range. However, air district officials said conditions could worsen in the North and East Bay as smoke mixes down to the surface.