Air Alert: More wildfire smoke in the Valley

FRESNO, Calif.

There are two big factors at work in the Air Alert issued by the Valley Air District. The first is, of course the smoke, the second is ozone levels.

A thick haze is settling into the Valley for at least the next two days, as are triple digits temperatures.

That hasn't yet stopped the cross-country team from Firebaugh. The teens are training at Woodward Park in north Fresno, with caution. Coaches are making sure to keep an eye on the air, the temperature and water intake. "We have one coach in front, one coach in back, and we run in a loop where we can keep an eye on them and see them at all times," Pedro Ramirez said.

Our forecast calls for stagnant hot air. The Valley Air District says when you match the smoke and pollution already in the air we see potentially dangerous ozone levels.

"Certainly the wildfire doesn't help," said Heather Heinks with the Air District. "It doesn't directly produce ozone, but it does contribute one of those pieces. Mixing that in with the stagnant air and the weather we're seeing is not good. So that's why we call an air alert."

The Air Alert is a public call to reduce emissions and focus on our health. Dr. A.M. Aminian at the Allergy Institute is already seeing a 30 percent increase in appointments thanks to the dirty air. He says problems associated with the smoke are much different than allergies.

"Today people feel sick because the oxygen is very low in the air," Dr. Aminian said. "The particulate matters, the soot, the ash, it just gets down and it just irritates."

Sandy pierce is one of those feeling the smoke's impact. "My eyes are really affected by it, dryness, just an irritation," she said.

Health officials say keep your windows closed at night especially. That's when cooler air allows more smoke to drift into our area.

The source of that smoke, the Rim Fire, is 80 percent contained. This is the state's third largest wildfire in history and it could have an impact on us for a while.

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