Smoke from the devastating Camp fire continued to shroud Sonoma County skies Saturday, with little relief from poor air quality in sight the rest of the weekend, if not most of next week.
A Spare the Air Alert issued by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District remains in effect through Monday, barring wood burning of any kind. With winds set to pick up overnight, elevated fire risk also resulted in a red flag warning for the North Bay mountains, extending into this afternoon.
In Santa Rosa and much of Sonoma County, air quality Saturday was ranked unhealthy to very unhealthy — designations nearing the worst level on the five-tier index — with similar conditions across the region.
“It’s unhealthy all over the Bay Area,” said Walter Wallace, a district spokesman. “If you’re looking for somewhere in the Bay Area … outdoors-wise, there’s nowhere to go. It’s all unhealthy.”
Air will likely remain unhealthy without a “serious change” in weather patterns, Wallace said, which is not expected. The National Weather Service was forecasting a potential improvement as strong offshore winds, coming from the east, push smoke particles south, but even that pattern was seen as temporary.
“It will still look disgusting out there,” said Drew Peterson, a NWS meteorologist in Monterey. “It might be a little better (Sunday) morning into midday, but there’s more smoke coming. That’ll linger and then scatter from the area in the late work week, at best.”
Sonoma County residents are advised to limit outdoor activity as much as possible while air quality remains poor. People are encouraged to stay inside with the windows and doors shut.
The Camp fire, now the state’s most destructive inferno ever, is burning about 100 miles away from Sonoma County, in the Sierra Nevada foothills east of Chico. There were no active fires in Sonoma County on Saturday, authorities said.
The red flag warning extended from 10 p.m. Saturday and to 4 p.m. Sunday. As a precaution, Sonoma County fire agencies have called in extra staffing in preparation for the heightened fire risk weather.
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The county public health division on Friday issued the following recommendations to residents:
• Limit your time outside.
• If possible, seek shelter in buildings with filtered air or go to areas outside the region until smoke levels subside.
• Keep your windows and doors closed unless it’s extremely hot outside.
• Run your home or car air-conditioner on recycle or recirculate. Keep the fresh air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent bringing additional smoke inside.
• If you or your children have asthma or other lung disease, make sure you follow your doctor’s directions about taking your medicines and following your asthma management plan. Call your doctor for advice if symptoms worsen or consider leaving the area.