Smoke from Angora fire prompts health warnings
June 25, 2007
With winds expected to pick up by the middle of the week, El Dorado County health officials and Barton Memorial Hospital staff have recommended the cancellation of all outdoor gatherings and sporting events in and around Lake Tahoe due to the health hazards presented by the poor air quality.
Eagle and Carson valleys have also experienced heavy smoke in some areas and should take precautions.
“Residents with lung or heart disease and the elderly are advised to leave areas where levels of particulate matter are high,” said Jason Eberhart-Phillips, public health officer for El Dorado County, in a press statement. “For everyone else, when they smell or see smoke, stay indoors and avoid heavy exertion.”
No injuries from the fire have been reported at Barton Memorial Hospital as of Monday afternoon, although three patients in the intensive care unit have been transferred to surrounding hospitals as a precaution, according to Jaime Aust, spokeswoman for the hospital.
Sensitive individuals, such as the young, aged and those with respiratory conditions are at greatest risk of experiencing aggravated symptoms from the poor air quality, according to a press statement from Barton.
In addition to remaining indoors with entrances closed and keeping activity levels low, hospital staff recommended using the re-circulate mode on air conditioners, keeping airways moist by drinking lots of water, and breathing through a warm, wet washcloth to relieve dryness.
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A doctor should be contacted if you have symptoms such as chest pain, chest tightness, shortness of breath or severe fatigue.
As of Monday morning, air quality in South Lake Tahoe ranged from very unhealthy to hazardous, according to the press statement.
Daytime heating of air in the basin should help it rise out of the basin over the next few days, although a nighttime inversion layer will trap smoke in the late evening and nighttime hours, according to Rhett Milne, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Reno.
Wind, expected to pick up on Wednesday, could also contribute to removing smoke from the basin, although it may also fan any remnants of the blaze still burning.
“Today and tomorrow are really the best days to get a handle on this,” Milne said during a phone interview on Monday. “We are looking at fairly strong winds from Wednesday through Saturday. The next few days are going to be critical.”