Smoke From California Fires Brings Haze, Unhealthy Air To Utah

Aug 21, 2020, 3:40 PM | Updated: 8:42 pm
Hazy over the Salt Lake Valley on Aug. 21, 2020. (Matt Newey/KSL TV)...
Hazy over the Salt Lake Valley on Aug. 21, 2020. (Matt Newey/KSL TV)
(Matt Newey/KSL TV)

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.”

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.

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.

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Smoke From California Fires Brings Haze, Unhealthy Air To Utah