Wildfire smoke impacting air quality at Truckee-Tahoe

A view of the air quality in the Tahoe Basin Thursday morning from

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Smoke from wildfires burning south and west of the basin is impacting air quality at Lake Tahoe.

South Lake Tahoe has unhealthy air quality Thursday morning according to while the north and western shores are rated moderate and Truckee is in the green with good air quality.

The National Weather Service is forecasting widespread haze and areas of smoke into the weekend. 

The smoke appears to be coming from fires near Yosemite National Park, the Red Fire and Rodgers Fire and a fire that started on Tuesday in Placer County, the Mosquito Fire, located between the Rubicon River and Middle Fork of the American River about 26 miles east of the community of Foresthill, in the Tahoe National Forest. That blaze has exploded in growth, growing to 5,705 acres as of Wednesday evening. The uncontained fire grew about 4,300 acres since Wednesday morning when it was reported at 1,203 acres due to the hot and dry conditions.

The fire has prompted evacuation orders and warnings. To see a list of evacuation orders, visit here.

A view of the air quality Thursday morning from

The weather service says the Mosquito Fire will continue to impact the Tahoe Basin with “Intermittent air quality degradation (or at least hazy skies) is possible as far north as Reno/Sparks, but current high-resolution models favor late Friday into Saturday for these areas to be most impacted, assuming steady-state fire growth.”

Placer County on Wednesday issued a joint news release from health and human services and air pollution control district that there is potential for poor air quality in both Placer and El Dorado counties through Friday due to smoke from the Mosquito Fire.

“Wildfire smoke may be intermittent and affect different areas of Placer County with elevated levels of particulate matter dependent upon wind direction,” the release said. “Poor air quality can have negative health impacts, particularly for sensitive groups and when exposure is prolonged.”

Smoke contains very tiny particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs. While all people may experience varying degrees of symptoms, more sensitive individuals — such as the young, aged and those with respiratory conditions — are at greatest risk of experiencing serious symptoms, the release said. Symptoms may include, but are not limited to, coughing, watery and itchy eyes, headache, scratchy throat, and difficulty in breathing.

If you can see or smell smoke, avoid all unnecessary outdoor activities, especially if you are in an area where visibility is greatly reduced.

Here are recommended ways to reduce your smoke exposure:

— Stay indoors with the windows and doors closed; if possible, run the air conditioner on the “recirculation” setting

— Limit outdoor physical activity 

— Leave the smoke-impacted areas if possible until conditions improve 

— Reduce unnecessary driving. If traveling through smoke-impacted areas, be sure that your vehicle’s ventilation system is on recirculate

— Non‐HEPA paper face mask filters and bandana-type face coverings are not capable of filtering out extra fine smoke particulates which are much smaller in size. Therefore, they will not be helpful in protecting individuals from smoke-related impacts.

Anyone experiencing serious symptoms due to smoke should contact a health professional. Persons who have a respiratory-related illness may also wish to consult their health care provider if they are experiencing smoke exposure. Air quality can change rapidly at different times during the day due to wind shifts; monitor smoke throughout the day and make outdoor plans accordingly.

The hot weather is expected to last into the weekend before the extended heat wave lets up.

South Lake Tahoe came within 1 degree of tying the record for the date (90). Weather data was not available for Tahoe City which had broken records for four straight days and was forecast to break another on Wednesday.

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