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  • Judy Dolan / Special to Sacbee.com

    Wildfire smoke clouds the skies over Main Street Placerville on Tuesday morning, August 27, 2013.

  • Judy Dolan / Special to Sacbee.com

    Smoke from wildfires clouds the skies along Missouri Flat Road in Placerville on Tuesday morning, August 27, 2013.

  • Paul Kitagaki Jr. / pkitagaki@sacbee.com

    Trees stand scorched by the Rim Fire in the Stanislaus National Forest along Highway 120 near Yosemite National Park, Monday August 26, 2013 in, Calif. With winds gusting to 25mph on Sierra, hundreds of firefighters have been deployed to protect this and other communities in the path of the Rim Fire raging north of Yosemite National Park.

  • Paul Kitagaki Jr. / pkitagaki@sacbee.com

    A tree stump burns in the Stanislaus National Forest from the Rim Fire along Highway 120 near Yosemite National Park, Monday August 26, 2013 in, Calif. With winds gusting to 25mph on Sierra, hundreds of firefighters have been deployed to protect this and other communities in the path of the Rim Fire raging north of Yosemite National Park.

  • Jae C. Hong / AP

    A smoke plume from the Rim Fire rises nera Yosemite National Park, Calif., on Monday, Aug. 26, 2013. A raging wildfire in Yosemite National Park rained ash on the reservoir that is the chief source of San Francisco's famously pure drinking water, and utility officials Monday scrambled to send more water toward the metropolitan area before it becomes tainted. (AP Photo/ Jae C. Hong)

  • Jae C. Hong / AP

    A helicopter reloads fire retardant as firefighters continue to battle the Rim Fire in Tuolumne City, Calif., on Monday, Aug. 26, 2013. A raging wildfire in Yosemite National Park rained ash on the reservoir that is the chief source of San Francisco's famously pure drinking water, and utility officials Monday scrambled to send more water toward the metropolitan area before it becomes tainted. (AP Photo/ Jae C. Hong)

  • Paul Kitagaki Jr. / pkitagaki@sacbee.com

    Flames from the Rim fire caused the paint to peel off a sign on Highway 120 near Yosemite National Park.

  • Paul Kitagaki Jr. / pkitagaki@sacbee.com

    An area of Stanislaus National Forest lies scarred Monday on the 10th day of the Rim fire, which had consumed 161,000 acres.

Wildfire smoke leads to unhealthy air warnings in Placer, El Dorado counties

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013 - 1:02 pm
Last Modified: Wednesday, Sep. 4, 2013 - 8:50 am

Smoke from the Rim Fire raging near Yosemite and from Placer County's American Fire has worsened air quality today in the Sacramento region.

After improvements in the past two days, air quality deteriorated Tuesday morning in the foothill area of Placer County. The county's Air Pollution Control District reported that the air quality index in Foresthill had pushed into the hazardous zone, while in both Auburn and Colfax, the index stands in the lower part of the unhealthy range.

"Auburn is definitely sitting in the smoke right now," said Ann Hobbs, an air control specialist at Placer County. "(The index) has steadily risen as the smoke has started coming down the hill."

In El Dorado County, the Air Quality Management District has set up three portable monitors to measure air quality, according to air pollution control officer Dave Johnston.

Monitors at fire stations near Georgetown and Cool both reported air quality in the unhealthy range, while the monitor at Pinewood Elementary School in Pollock Pines reported air quality in the very unhealthy range.

Health officials advise that when the air quality index reaches the unhealthy range, which extends from 151 to 200 on the air quality index, active individuals or individuals with respiratory problems avoid prolonged outdoor exertion. Once the index exceeds 200, it enters the the very unhealthy range, at which point health officials advise everyone to limit outdoor exertion.

Weather patterns are expected to be similar over the next couples of days, according to Johnston. Hobbs said for this reason, lower air quality is likely persist.

"As long as fires are burning, and the wind is blowing, we are going to have the smoke coming down," she said.

As of Tuesday morning, the Rim Fire is 20 percent contained, and has grown to burn 179,481 acres. More than 3,700 firefighters are battling the wildfire blaze, which is threatening thousands of structures, including 4,500 residences and six commercial buildings.

Meanwhile, the American Fire is 88 percent contained, and is estimated to be fully contained by Thursday. The wildfire, which is located 10 miles northeast of Foresthill, has burned 24,935 acres.

Call The Bee's Kurt Chirbas, (916) 321-1030.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Kurt Chirbas



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