Smoke from distant fires pollutes Bay Area skies

Smoke from two fires burning thousands of acres in the counties of Santa Clara and Plumas has congested the Bay Area's air, according to the Bay Area Quality Management District .

Because of unfavorable winds, smoke has traveled hundreds of miles to the Bay Area and increased air levels of harmful particulate matter, according to Bay Area Air Quality Management District spokeswoman Karen Schkolnick.

The wind is carrying the smoke southwest directly to the Bay Area from Plumas County and driving smoke from Santa Clara County in southern and northern directions, said Brian Tentinger, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

The lingering smoke even made the sun appear red as it rose this morning, Tentinger said.

Particulate matter can cause eye and nose irritation, coughing, a scratchy throat and irritated sinuses, the air quality management district reported.

Seniors, children and those with respiratory problems such as asthma are most susceptible to health problems arising from increased particulate levels, according to the air quality management district.

The size of the particulate matter particles caused by the fires is what's worrisome. When the particles get really small, they can travel faster, Schkolnick said.

As the fires continue to burn, Schkolnick said residents can decrease their exposure to smoky air by keeping windows closed and by avoiding the outdoors.

The Lick fire in Santa Clara County has charred nearly 19,000 acres since Monday, Cal Fire spokesman Kevin Colburn said.

The Moonlight fire in Plumas County, sharing the name of a street where the flames destroyed one unoccupied house, has burned 28,000 acres since Monday afternoon, according to Plumas National Forest spokesman Mark Beaulieu.

The fires are believed to have been caused by human activity, according to fire officials.

— Bay City News

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