Nevada wild fires make for a smoky view | SierraSun.com

Nevada wild fires make for a smoky view

Sierra Countis
Sierra Sun

As lightning storms sparked more than a half dozen fires on Monday in Northern Nevada, their byproduct is being seen in the skies over the Tahoe-Truckee region.

“It’s kind of hazy ” the smoke is high in the atmosphere,” said Ryan Murano, air pollution control specialist from Northern Sierra Air Management District in Truckee. “It’s nothing to be worried about.”

Murano said that even though the air smells like smoke, the current conditions don’t require people to change their outdoor activities.

“It’s not at the point right now where we recommend you to stay inside,” he said.

A fire near Carson City is impacting the air quality in the area, but not at dangerous levels, Murano said. He said the current air quality average in Truckee between the hours of 1 a.m. to 7 a.m. Tuesday was at 46 micrograms per cubic meter. Murano said the California air quality level standard over a 24-hour period is set at 50 micrograms per cubic meter with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency level at 150 micrograms per cubic meter as “a health-based standard.”

He said once air quality levels exceed the California standard, people should be aware of harmful health affects, warning residents to go indoors if they experience trouble breathing or if they are asthmatic.

Murano said he has been checking the air conditions more frequently in the area because of the fires. He said the air quality in the Loyalton area is much worse because of its proximity to the wildfire in Balls Canyon.

Rhett Milne, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Reno, said an inversion layer from cold air pools in the valley have trapped smoke from fires in the air. He said the week’s forecast predicts more thunderstorms that are expected to bring an abundance of moisture Wednesday.

“Hopefully there’ll be enough rain to put out the fires,” Milne said.

The red flag warning issued by the National Weather Service is in effect until 10 p.m. Tuesday, according to Milne.

Murano said there could be air quality problems if more fires start. He said he doesn’t see conditions worsening, especially if Wednesday’s storm provides enough rain to put out the fires in Nevada and improve the air. Those fires were burning nearly 100,000 acres across Northern Nevada as of Tuesday.

Gene Welch, the Truckee Fire Protection District’s public safety and information officer, said one Truckee fire engine responded to Placer County dispatch about 8 p.m. Monday. Welch said the strike team carrying four personnel was sent to Carson City, but did not know what fire the team was sent to.