Social media is abuzz with posts from fire, air and law-enforcement posts telling Valley residents where the blanket of smoke in the air is coming from.
“Drift smoke from the fires burning all over California is settling in our area. There are currently no fires within the city of Turlock. Our dispatch is currently receiving numerous calls for the smell of smoke,” the Turlock Fire Department posted on Facebook on Wednesday morning.
“Seeing and smelling smoke in Patterson? It’s drifting into the Valley from several large fires currently burning to the north of us,” Patterson Police Services posted. Modesto Fire issued much the same message.
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The Modesto Police Department tweeted, “The smoke in and around Modesto is from the Northern California wildfires. For health reasons, stay inside.”
The Northern San Joaquin Valley is being impacted by fires to the north in Solano, Sonoma and Napa counties, said Anthony Presto, spokesman at the Modesto office of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. “The inversion layer is giving us heavy impacts.”
Anyone in an area where they can see or smell smoke should stay inside as much as possible, Presto said. That’s especially true for sensitive groups like children, the elderly and people with asthma or other respiratory conditions. If possible, those people are urged to stay indoors until the wildfires are extinguished, he said.
The entire San Joaquin Valley is under an air district health caution because the Lion fire also continues in Tulare County, Presto said.
All schools in the Modesto City Schools district are on a rainy-day schedule, meaning “students are kept indoors during recess, lunch and P.E.,” said district spokewoman Becky Fortuna.
All outdoor athletic events and practices have been canceled, she added. “In addition to any football or golf practices, we had the (Modesto Metro Conference) cross country meet and Enochs had a powder puff game scheduled for today.”
The Sylvan Union School District also messaged students’ families that it also is enforcing rainy-day schedules at all sites.
Smoke from fires can cause serious health problems including lung disease, asthma attacks and increased risk of heart attacks and stroke, the air district warned. “Where conditions warrant, people with heart or lung disease should follow their doctors’ advice for dealing with episodes of particulate exposure,” it said in a news release.
Residents can check the district’s wildfire page at http://www.valleyair.org/wildfiresfor information about any current wildfires and whether they are affecting the Valley.
Residents can also check the nearest air monitor to their location to determine localized air-quality conditions. Visit the Real-time Air Advisory Network page on the District’s website to subscribe for free: www.valleyair.org/RAAN.
Wednesday afternoon, the RAAN page was at the highest level – Level 5/very unhealthy – for fine particulate matter concentration. “Everyone should avoid outdoor activity if possible,” it said.
Deke Farrow: 209-578-2327