In the clear |

In the clear

Grass Valley’s air quality returned to the moderate range for four straight days this week, offering relief to everyone who has breathed smoke from area wildfires for more than three weeks.

With fires in the Yuba River Complex contained and those in the American River nearing containment, air quality experts are optimistic that quality will continue to improve.

“I think we’re out of the woods. We’re probably not going to have any more unhealthy days. We’ll probably remain in the good and moderate range,” said Joe Fish, of the Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District.

Since lightning sparked more than 2,000 wildfires across the state on June 21, the air in western Nevada County has averaged in the unhealthy range.

On some days, ash became so thick that measurements bypassed the “unhealthy” range for everybody and reached the “very unhealthy” stage, forcing children inside at some summer programs and triggering health alerts by the county’s health department.

“In almost 50 years, I’ve never seen anything like that,” Fish said.

Conditions could become poor again if shifts in wind patterns cause smoke and particulate levels to rise.

Those planning outdoor activities are urged to follow this general rule set out by the air district: If you see or smell smoke, then you are most likely breathing unhealthy concentrations of ash.

To contact Staff Writer Laura Brown, e-mail or call 477-4231.

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