SAN LUIS OBISPO — The San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District issued an air quality alert for San Luis Obispo County, particularly North County, Tuesday morning due to several wildfires burning in and out of the County.
The SLO County Air Pollution Control District says to expect skies to be hazy and fine particulate (PM2.5) concentrations to be higher than normal. Changing winds make it difficult to predict which areas of the County may be most affected. However, until the fires are out, smoke will likely be intermittently present in the region.
Smoke from the 4,070 acre River Fire burning near Salinas is one of the fires causing hazy skies in San Luis Obispo County this week.
According to Cal Fire, the fire was caused by lightning and reported at about 3 p.m. on Sunday in the area of Pine Canyon and River Road, east of Salinas, in Monterey County.
The River Fire, one of 20 active Cal Fire incidents, grew to 4,070 acres and is 10 percent contained as of Cal Fire’s Tuesday morning report. It burned over 1,000 acres on Monday. Six structures have been destroyed, two have been damaged and 1,527 more are threatened. Four firefighters have been treated for heat-related injuries.
Air District officials recommend that if people smell smoke or see ash, take precautions, and use common sense to reduce exposure to smoke. All adults and children should:
• Head indoors and remain indoors, if possible
• Avoid strenuous outdoor activity
• Close all windows and doors that lead outside to prevent bringing additional smoke inside.
These precautions are especially necessary for sensitive groups, including children, older adults, and people with existing respiratory illness and heart conditions, as they are particularly vulnerable to the health effects of poor air quality.
Families with small children should be aware that even if adults in the household have no symptoms, children may experience symptoms due to their smaller body mass and developing lungs. If smoke increases, healthy people could be affected as well.
If people experience a cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, exhaustion, light-headedness or chest pain, stop any outdoor activity immediately and seek medical attention. More information can be found at slocleanair.org/air-quality/wildfire.
APCD and County officials will continue to closely monitor smoke impacts and air quality in San Luis Obispo County. By following the air quality index (AQI), the public can also monitor real-time air quality throughout SLO County. The AQI focuses on health effects individuals may experience within a few hours or days after breathing polluted air.
The current and forecasted AQI is available via the APCD website at slocleanair.org. People can also follow the SLO County APCD and Public Health Department Twitter feeds for the latest updates (@slocleanair and @SLOPublicHealth). People can also sign up for AirAware alerts right on your phone by visiting our website at SLOCleanAir.org.