Smoke From California Fires Brings Haze, Unhealthy Air To Utah
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Smoke from major wildfires that have killed six people and burned 1,200 square miles in California has brought hazy conditions and unhealthy air quality to the Wasatch Front.
Air conditions across northern Utah were reported at the orange level Friday, which is unhealthy for sensitive groups. Air quality north of Salt Lake City had dropped to “unhealthy” or red levels of pollutants by Friday night.
“Smoke from wildfires is causing elevated concentrations of particulates,” officials said. “If smoke becomes thick, persons with existing heart or respiratory ailments should reduce physical exertion and outdoor activity.”
Latest forecast simulation of smoke through this evening, not expecting much improvement over northern and western Utah. #utwx pic.twitter.com/SmmTzcqcm8
— NWS Salt Lake City (@NWSSaltLakeCity) August 21, 2020
Officials with the Utah Department of Environmental Quality said the Cache Valley was being hit particularly hard by the pollution, along with smoke from local fires and pollutants from long-range transportation.
The DEQ’s air quality forecast indicated unhealthy air quality was expected to remain across the Wasatch Front through the weekend.
Smoke from #CAWildfires will continue to affect #AirQuality across the West and in Utah this weekend. Residents with heart or lung conditions should reduce physical exertion and outdoor activity for the next few days.
Keep up on current conditions at https://t.co/rz5IK3fCF4.
— Utah DEQ (@UtahDEQ) August 21, 2020
Doctors also warned people to carefully weigh the risks to their health on days like Friday, where there are competing risks — air pollution and COVID-19.
Intermountain Healthcare pulmonologist Dr. Denitza Blagev suggested looking at risks like asthma and other lung diseases, especially in kids who are at a higher risk of pollution-related problems in general.
“Our recess guidelines in Utah say, especially on a day like today where the air pollution is so high, especially kids that have asthma and underlying lung disease should be having indoor recess,” Blagev said. “And when air quality goes into that red range, really all kids should have indoor recess.”
Smoke Blankets Salt Lake Valley
LIVE: There's very little visibility in the Salt Lake Valley, as you can see from this view from Ensign Peak looking south.
Posted by KSL 5 TV on Friday, August 21, 2020
California Firefighter Response
Crews from Oregon, Idaho and Arizona have arrived to relieve local firefighters, with engines on their way from as far away as Maryland and New Jersey.
Over 12,000 firefighters are battling the fires, which are still threatening tens of thousands of homes.
California wildfire smoke has arrived. Air pollution affects us all – no man is an island. Stay inside especially if exercising and take your regular medications if you have heart or lung disease. And let’s all #maskup! #cleanair pic.twitter.com/rEkbkvHi3j
— Denitza Blagev, MD (@mybetterdoctor) August 21, 2020
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