Air quality may be affected for most of the summer |

Air quality may be affected for most of the summer

Morgan Kriz and Andrew Pridgen

Toby Citret rides his bike down Highway 89 while wearing a mask Tuesday afternoon. The highway was blocked because of the Angora fire. / Emma Garrard / Tahoe Daily Tribune

Whether you’re an Xterra athlete huffing and puffing up Tunnel Creek Road or a weekend warrior hiking up Mount Tallac, those who pursue outdoor interests in the Tahoe Basin this summer may feel more like they’re gulping down second-hand smoke of a casino floor than the rarified Tahoe air.

Air quality monitoring and local agency officials this week said they won’t know the fallout from the Angora Fire for at least a month, but many speculate, especially if the summer stays dry, that air quality in the basin could, at least temporarily, resemble that of a major metro area.

“It’s too early to say at this point,” said Tahoe Regional Planning Agency spokeswoman Julie Regan. “We’re looking at it, but it’ll probably take 20 days to see for sure what the change is going to be.”

Outdoor enthusiasts have already started to notice a change in the air quality.

North Tahoe Physical Therapy physical trainer Jane O’Brien said people who visit her are already reporting symptoms similar to allergies – even those who aren’t normally affected by allergies.

“I’m seeing a lot of people who (complain of) itchy eyes and throats and are coughing a bit more,” O’Brien said. “We are seeing both animals and people demonstrating fatigue.

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“I recommend drinking a lot of water to help flush some of that out. I tell people to try to stay indoors with the air conditioner on.”

Those with special sensitivity to smoke are advised by local hospital officials to stay inside.

“Those people with asthma and even those without asthma can be affected,” said Incline Village Community Hospital director Pam Stock. “If they are out exercising in these conditions, they can feel themselves short of breath and difficulty breathing because of congestion in their lungs.”

If breathing becomes a problem, Stock said people should consult a physician and perhaps leave the area temporarily. Those wanting more information about the fire and smoke’s effect on air quality visit