Wildfires create worst air quality in San Francisco Bay Area

The region has endured days of choking smoke since the fires began Sunday night and claimed at least 31 lives and destroyed some 3,500 homes and businesses.

Published: 13th October 2017 01:24 PM  |   Last Updated: 13th October 2017 01:24 PM   |  A+A-

FILE - This Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, aerial image shows homes that were destroyed by a wildfire next to a playground in Santa Rosa. | AP

By Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO: Smoke from the wildfires north of San Francisco has sunk air quality level in the Bay Area to the same unhealthy level as some of China's smog-choked cities, sending people to emergency rooms, forcing schools to close and people to wear masks when they step outside.

The region has endured days of choking smoke since the fires began Sunday night and claimed at least 31 lives and destroyed some 3,500 homes and businesses.

On Thursday morning, air quality in the most of the region was as bad as Beijing, China's notoriously polluted capital, according to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

"We have unprecedented levels of smoke and particles in the air that we normally don't see," said Ralph Borrmann, a spokesman for the district. He called it the worst air quality ever recorded in many parts of the Bay Area.

Officials warned that very fine smoke particles, thinner than a human hair, can get lodged in the lungs and into the bloodstream, causing irreparable damage to the body. In Solano County, hospitals there received more than 250 people who complained of toxic air inhalation, the county's health officer Bela Matyas said Thursday.

With winds expected to continue blowing smoke from the fires to populated areas this weekend, many schools decided to close Friday and organizers canceled weekend events, including an Oktoberfest in Walnut Creek and a fitness festival and half marathon in San Francisco.

Sports teams are monitoring the air quality as they prepare to host games.

The NFL has been exploring options to move Sunday's game between the Oakland Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers if it becomes necessary.

Oakland, which is some 45 miles (72 kilometers) south of the fires, has been blanketed by smoke.

Officials at the University of California, Berkeley and Stanford are monitoring the air quality situations as weekend football games approach.

Stay up to date on all the latest World news with The New Indian Express App. Download now

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.