Red flag warning: critical fire weather in Sierra |

Red flag warning: critical fire weather in Sierra

The Union staff
Grass Valley's Penny Collins wears an air mask Wednesday afternoon in Nevada County due to the poor air quality from fires burning in Northern California.
Elias Funez/

A red flag warning — meaning easier fire starts and the potential for dangerous and rapid spread of wildfire — has been issued for much of Northern California through Saturday night, including portions of Nevada County and the higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada.

Wind gusts, forecasted at 25-35 mph in the mountains and canyons, have meteorologists at the National Weather Service on alert as well, declaring critical fire weather conditions through Saturday evening.

Poor air quality from the wildfires has extended the Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District’s joint Air Quality Health Advisory to notify the public of potentially poor air quality at least through Monday.

Air quality conditions are expected to vary from good to unhealthy for sensitive groups and may possibly reach the unhealthy in some regions depending on wind direction and other factors.

Ozone levels will likely reach the unhealthy for sensitive groups range in western Nevada County, especially in the afternoon and evenings.

Poor air quality from the Mendocino Fire complex is expected to waft into Nevada County in the wee hours of Saturday morning, but should clear up before noon.

Tips to remain safe during critical fire weather conditions include not using a lawn mower on weeds or dry grass, properly disposing cigarettes and matches, avoiding power equipment that creates sparks and making sure no vehicle parts drag on the ground, including towing chains.

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