Truckee-Tahoe air filled with smoke from 65,000-acre Butte Fire |

Truckee-Tahoe air filled with smoke from 65,000-acre Butte Fire

The setting Sierra sun is juxtaposed amid smoky skies Sunday night, as seen from Highway 89 South, just south of Donner Pass Road in Truckee. The Truckee-Tahoe region has seen poor air quality since Friday stemming from smoke filtering into the region from the Butte Fire, which is burning a couple hours southwest of Lake Tahoe in Amador County. According to Calfire, the blaze had charred 71,660 acres as of Tuesday; destroyed 166 residences and 116 outbuildings; and was 37 percent contained.
Courtesy Gavin Graham / |

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Smoke continues to billow into the Truckee-Tahoe region on Sunday as the Butte Fire in Amador County gets larger and takes down more structures.

In Tahoe City, air quality as of Sunday was listed at 60.0 μg/m³ — which is in the unhealthy ranges, meaning “sensitive groups should avoid outdoor exposure and others should limit prolonged outdoor activity,” according to the Placer County Ai Pollution Control District.

The Nevada County Public Health Department issued an air quality advisory for Sunday, Sept. 13, due to smoke from the Butte Fire and other fires in the Northern California area, which may cause periodic times of poor air quality in both Eastern and Western county officials said.

“Those with chronic medical conditions, including asthma and COPD, should remain indoors during these times or at least limit outdoor activities when possible,” according to the county health department. “Remember that if you can see smoke or smell smoke, the air quality may be harmful. Should you have concerns about the smoke and your health, please contact your private provider.”

The Truckee Fire Protection District on Saturday issued a similar warning regarding smoke from the fire burning a couple hours southwest of Lake Tahoe, urging residents and visitors to the Truckee and Lake Tahoe areas “to limit outdoor activities.”

The Butte Fire has been a devastating one. According to Calfire, it burned more than 65,000 acres as of Sunday morning, and destroyed 86 homes and 51 outbuildings. Another 6,400 structures remain threatened.

The number of confirmed destroyed buildings is reportedly expected to grow later Sunday as inspection teams continue their assessments of what damage has been wrought by the blaze.

“We are going to see that number grow probably this evening,” Cal Fire spokesman Mike Mohler told the Sacramento Bee Sunday morning.

The fire is at 20 percent containment, officials said.

“Fire behavior remained moderate throughout the night moving North and East,” according to a Calfire update Sunday morning. “Firefighters continue to fight the fire aggressively, but critical fuel moisture levels, steep terrain, and limited fire access continue to provide challenges for firefighters.

The fire started Sept. 9 near Butte Mountain Road, in the counties of Amador and Calaveras; its cause is under investigation.

Nearly 4,200 personnel are fighting the blaze, including 474 engines, 79 hand crews, 55 water tenders and 17 helicopters.

Go. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for the fire.

Meanwhile, the Valley Fire in Lake County, northwest of Sacramento, erupted Saturday afternoon and spread quickly, exploding to 40,000 acres in less than 24 hours.

It’s reportedly forced thousands to flee, and hospitalized four firefighters with second-degree burns.

The firefighters, all members of a helicopter crew, were airlifted to a hospital burn unit, where they were being treated for second-degree burns and were listed in stable condition, Calfire spokesman Daniel Berlant told the Associated Press.

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