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San Benito
February 27, 2024

Smoky air from wildfire means locals should take precautions

Smoke from the Butte County fire has found its way into San Benito County skies, meaning local residents will want to take precaution due to air conditions.
Air quality from a Hollister monitoring station shows “moderate” conditions locally, which means residents should be cautious about outdoor activities, especially those in sensitive groups.
Locals should watch out for the Hollister air to potentially reach the next level down, which is the “unhealthy” rating, because that’s when they should be extra cautious and perhaps make sure to stay indoors as much as possible, said David Frisbey, planning and air monitoring manager for the Monterey Bay Air Resources District.
If air quality gets any worse, residents will want to do things like limit their physical activity outside.
“It’s probably just best to not do anything like exercise or go for a run,” he said.
Smoke from the Camp fire in Paradise is hundreds of miles away, but winds can easily carry such low-quality air as far as San Benito County and farther south. Northern Santa Cruz County as of 1 p.m. already had an “unhealthy” rating, he said. San Juan Bautista does not have a monitoring station, so it’s important for those residents to use their best judgment.
“Pay attention to your own experience,” he said. “If the smoke’s bothering you, then that’s a good indication you should probably stay inside.”
According to a press release sent out Friday from the air resources district:

Smoke transported from wildfires currently burning in northern California have degraded air quality throughout Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz counties, causing the concentration of smoke to reach levels of the Air Quality Index (AQI) that are MODERATE or UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITVE GROUPS in some areas of the region and as high as UNHEALTHY in Santa Cruz earlier today. Conditions are subject to change depending on wind and fire activity. As a result, air quality will be variable and unpredictable. The Air District will continue to follow the situation and issue advisories when appropriate.
The Monterey Bay Air Resources District tracks real time air quality in our region. Updates on the current air quality forecast can be found on the Air District website at: http://mbard.org/air-quality/.
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If you are being impacted by smoke, consider these guidelines:

  • When the concentration of smoke has reached UNHEALTHY levels of the AQI, residents should limit their activity by staying indoors with the doors and windows closed to avoid breathing smoke. You may want to check with your health care provider to make sure it’s not necessary for you to leave the area.
  • Use common sense. If it looks smoky outside, it’s probably not a good time to go for a run. And it’s probably not a good time for your children to play outdoors.
  • Help lower inside particle levels inside your home. When smoke levels are high, avoid using anything that burns, such as wood fireplaces, gas logs, gas stoves – even candles. Don’t vacuum as that stirs up particles already inside your home. And don’t smoke. That puts even more pollution in your lungs, and in the lungs of people around you.
  • We are asking residents to avoid adding more pollution to the air by limiting activities such as wood burning, driving, lawn mowing, and leaf blowing.Health Effects of Smoke:Smoke is made up of a complex mixture of gases and fine particles produced when wood and other organic matter burn. The biggest health threat from smoke comes from fine particles. These fine particles are especially harmful to the very young, very old, and to people with heart and lung disease.If you have further questions, information about the health effects of wildfire smoke can be found on the EPA website: http://www.airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=smoke.index.
    Photo caption: Smoky air hovers over hills near the San Juan Valley.