Fallout from the fires: ‘I’m sick of it’ | TheUnion.com

Fallout from the fires: ‘I’m sick of it’

From a couple hundred yards away, Bill Purcell and Stephanie Adams looked like ghostly figures as they sat under a tree in Nevada City’s Pioneer Park Friday afternoon.

They weren’t there to get a breath of fresh air but to exercise the dogs, perhaps the only creatures in the park oblivious to the smoke that has choked the area for three weeks now.

“I’m sick of it,” said Adams, a ceramics instructor at Sierra College, adding she no longer rides her bike to work every day.

Purcell, who recently finished a 600-mile bicycle tour of Northern California, was a bit more circumspect.

“I’ve been gone for 10 days on a bike tour, so I haven’t had to experience as much of this as other people,” he said. “But this seems to be dampening spirits.”

It’s also starting to affect some significant events.

KVMR spent months planning its 30-year anniversary party, which included a Saturday afternoon street fair with 22 bands performing on two separate stages outdoors.

On Wednesday afternoon, General Manager David Levin decided to cancel the street fair and move the two stages for the free concerts inside the Miners Foundry on Spring Street.

“It became very clear to me that I didn’t want to risk anybody’s health,” he said Friday afternoon.

Nonetheless, the show will go on.

Food vendors are moving inside, with the bands and a music sale set to start at 10 a.m. in front of the studio and go until 2 p.m. The radio station is also providing a shuttle service. Party-goers can park at the Rood Center and a bus will start service at 11:45 a.m. and continue until 7 p.m.

Levin, like many others, thought the smoke from the fires in Butte and Placer counties would have dissipated long ago.

“This is the oddest thing I’ve ever seen,” he said.

The seemingly endless smoke is hurting ticket sales for the upcoming Worldfest concert, which attracts several thousand fans annually to the Nevada County fairgrounds, according to fairgrounds chief executive Ed Scofield.

The event goes from Thursday through Sunday. “I’m worrying about it right now,” Scofield said Friday. “It’s looking like it’s going to be a long summer.”

Nevada City’s Parks and Recreation department closed the pool at Pioneer Park when the smoke first descended upon the area in June, said Dawn Zydonis, the department’s director. Now the pool will stay open as long as there are swimmers, Zydonis said.

“There’s a lot of people in our community who don’t have air conditioning. So this is a cool place they can come to,” she said, adding that decisions on holding Parks and Recreation programs are determined on a daily basis.

Purcell, a 36-year-old furniture maker, said he’s seen more smoke in Nevada County than he did while riding in Shasta and Trinity counties, which have their own forest fires.

“I didn’t see anything quite as bad as I’m seeing here,” he said.

To contact Staff Writer Pat Butler, e-mail pbutler@theunion.com or call 477-4239.

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