‘Unhealthy’ air quality in Sacramento area as fire burns in North Natomas

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The air quality in Sacramento has quickly shifted to “unhealthy for sensitive groups” as smoke from a fire blazing in North Natomas gets a boost from windy conditions and creeps south for miles.

The Air Quality Index ranked Sacramento’s air as unhealthy for certain populations, including people with heart and lung conditions, children and elderly adults. The 140 index said all residents should limit “prolonged or heavy exertion.”

It’s OK to be active outside, but take more breaks and do less intense activities,” the air advisory includes. “Watch for symptoms such as coughing or shortness of breath. People with asthma should follow their asthma action plans and keep quick relief medicine handy. If you have heart disease: Symptoms such as palpitations, shortness of breath, or unusual fatigue may indicate a serious problem. If you have any of these, contact your heath care provider.”

The unhealthy levels include Elk Grove and Jackson, with Davis’ air quality ranked at 188. Yuba City is under “moderate” air quality, meaning “unusually sensitive” residents should limit prolonged or heavy exertion.

Keith Wade of the Sacramento Fire department said there were small grass fires in the area that have blown smoke into the air.

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“It almost looks like we’re surrounded by smoke,” Wade said.

Sacramento is under a red flag warning from the National Weather Service for lower humidity and wind conditions that could bring gusts of up to 60 mph through Monday morning.

“Strong and dry storm system will be moving over Norcal today causing strong and potentially damaging north to east winds over much of interior California,” the NWS advised on Sunday. “This will likely be the strongest wind storm of the fall season and one of the strongest of the past few years. Extreme fire weather conditions are likely. Another windy system is possible Tuesday and Wednesday.”

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Hannah Wiley joined The Bee as a legislative reporter in 2019. She produces the morning newsletter for Capitol Alert and previously reported on immigration, education and criminal justice. She’s a Chicago-area native and a graduate of Saint Louis University and Northwestern.