Bay Area Air Quality Hits Unhealthy Levels After Wildfires

Bay Area and Northern California residents woke up to air quality rated as “unhealthy for some” on Wednesday.

Winds are bringing smoke from wildfires in northwestern California and southwestern Oregon to the Bay Area, according to the National Weather Service. Smoky air from the fires could linger across the Bay Area for the next few days, it said in a post on X.

Air quality levels are expected to remain unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as people with heart or lung disease, older adults, children and teens, until Thursday, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

One of the main contributors to the smoke is the Smith River Complex fire, east of Crescent City, Calif., which spreads from Northern California past the Oregon state line.

Five fires farther south in California’s Siskiyou Wilderness area, and winds from the Anvil fire just east of Port Orford, Ore., are also adding to the smoky conditions.

The National Weather Service put out a fire weather watch early Wednesday morning that will remain in effect until Thursday morning.

“The combination of gusty winds and low humidity can cause fire to rapidly grow in size and intensity,” National Weather Service meteorologists wrote.

Humidity is expected to be as low as 25 percent and winds could reach up to 20 miles per hour with 30 m.p.h. gusts.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District, a government agency, issued an air quality advisory on Tuesday.

Oakland Zoo closed on Wednesday because of the air quality and said it would issue refunds to customers who had reservations. San Francisco Unified School District wrote on its website on Tuesday that schools would stay in session and that it would continue to monitor the air quality. The district said it had “multiple to ways maintain healthy air quality, including HVAC systems and portable air cleaners.”

In the city of South San Francisco, school district officials said on Wednesday that classes remained in session, but warned that if the Air Quality Index — which measures the density of five key pollutants in the air — exceeds 151, it would move all activities indoors. As of 11 a.m. Pacific time, South San Francisco had an AQI of 131.

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