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Dixie Fire smoke persists across Nevada County

The Dixie Fire haze continues to ebb and flow between the Sierra Foothills’ peaks and valleys

The sun shines through layers of drift smoke from the Dixie Fire Thursday morning in Grass Valley’s Glenbrook Basin. The fire has now grown to over 220,000 acres, sending unhealthy smoke throughout Northern California and across the nation.
Photo: Elias Funez

According to the Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District, the smoke in western Nevada County will clear by Thursday evening.

Sam Longmire, air pollution control specialist with the district, said the haze brought on by Northern California wildfires also will persist throughout the evening in eastern county.

“We expect the smoke to clear out of west county around 4 p.m., but it could get worse before that,” Longmire said. “Eastern Nevada County will probably stay hazy all night.”



According to Sierra Littlefield, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, smoke travels up — in altitude — at night and back down in the mornings.

“Based on forecast it’s showing right now, there’s more of a push toward the northeast as we go to the evening hours,” Littlefield said. “Truckee will be worse later because the valley will clear up.”



Littlefield said there’s a natural ebb and flow of smoke between day and nighttime through drainage flows in the region’s diverse topography.

PARTICULATE MATTER

Longmire said nearly all the smoke in western county is from the Dixie Fire, but that Truckee might be getting hit with smoke from the Beckwourth Complex Fire, northeast of Portola, as well.

The Dixie Fire, 23% contained on Thursday, is responsible for the haze, which will likely grow and lessen in strength in the Sierra Foothills until the flames are extinguished, Littlefield said.

According to Cal Fire, the Dixie Fire originated near Feather River Canyon on July 14 and has burned 221,504 acres between Plumas and Butte counties in the days since.

Longmire said smoke from the fires is “making a swirling pattern,” as it heads east, up and over the Sierra Crest before dropping south toward Reno.

The air quality index can be categorized five different ways: good, moderate, unhealthy for sensitive groups, very unhealthy and hazardous.

“In Plumas (County) they have endured extended periods of hazardous air conditions (since the fire began),” Longmire said.

Longmire said the air quality management district determined that Grass Valley’s blue and black oak-filtered air currently contains 75.0 micrograms per cubic meters of fine, particulate matter less than 2.5 microns across, making the air unhealthy for most individuals.

Longmire said those with chronic health issues should remain indoors as much as possible.

Truckee’s fir and pine-filtered air currently contains 41.0 micrograms per cubic meters of fine, particulate matter less than 2.5 microns across, making the region “unhealthy for sensitive individuals.”

Longmire said the advisory his agency issued to the county on Monday remains in place. The recommendations include minimizing outdoor activities “even if you’re healthy,” staying indoors whenever possible and using the air conditioning unit’s recirculation feature, if available.

“If you run your air conditioner on recirculate and you have a filter, that can help a little bit,” Longmire said.

Longmire noted that locking one’s windows and doors seals them better than leaving them closed and unlocked. He also encouraged residents and visitors to keep their airways moist by staying hydrated and avoiding cigarettes and barbecues.

Now might be the time to invest in a houseplant, as Longmire said “it has been shown that plants improve indoor air quality.”

Rebecca O’Neil is a staff writer with The Union. She can be reached at roneil@theunion.com

For information on smoke in the area

 


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