Weather News

Smelling smoke? Yosemite wildfire and a controlled burn are to blame, weather officials say

Smoke is blowing westward toward the Sacramento area from both a wildfire near Yosemite and a prescribed burn in the Eldorado National Forest on Thursday afternoon.

The U.S. Forest Service in a news release earlier this week warned that activity was ramping up on a “multi-year 8,800 acre prescribed fire” at the northern ridge above Caples Creek near Highway 88. Eldorado National Forest officials completed ignitions Tuesday, and will continue to monitor the prescribed burn, with smoke anticipated to last for “several days.”

The Briceburg Fire, which is burning near the entrance to Yosemite National Park and has prompted evacuation orders in Mariposa County, is also sending a significant amount of smoke northwestward through portions of Tuolumne, Calaveras, Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento and San Joaquin counties.

The National Weather Service posted satellite imagery and radar forecasts showing that smoke activity is expected to grow heavier throughout the late afternoon and early evening from the two fires.

In eastern Sacramento County and much of El Dorado County, including Folsom and Placerville, most of the smoke is coming from the Caples prescribed burn and is expected to get thicker as the afternoon progresses. Some residents posted to social media complaining of smoke in those areas earlier in the week, before Thursday’s wind patterns began to push the smoke Sacramento’s way.

NWS radar forecasts show increasing in intensity Thursday night through early Friday morning due to the Briceburg Fire, but near-surface smoke levels in the Sacramento area are expected to remain relatively “light,” according to the weather service. Still, hazy skies and the smell of smoke could be observed in Sacramento at around 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

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Michael McGough anchors The Sacramento Bee’s breaking news reporting team, covering public safety and other local stories. A Sacramento native and lifelong capital resident, he interned at The Bee while attending Sacramento State, where he earned a degree in journalism.
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