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Environment

Rough Fire Smoke Affects Central Valley's Air Quality

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The smoke from the Rough Fire near Hume Lake has now spread throughout communities in the San Joaquin Valley. As FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports, this is causing the Valley’s air pollution to spike to potentially dangerous levels.

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District issued a health alert for the rest of the week for several counties including Fresno, Madera and the valley portion of Kern County. They’re recommending people to limit their outdoor activities.

Heather Heinks with the Valley Air District says in August, weather patterns kept most of the smoke away from valley cities.

“Unfortunately, that all changed a couple of days ago,” she says. “Most of the Valley counties have experienced readings from particulate matter coming off of that fire.”

Officials are urging schools to keep students inside. So far, Fresno Unified has cancelled all outdoor activities for today and Clovis Unified is limiting them.

Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera says they’ve been seeing more kids with respiratory issues show up at the emergency department in the past few days.

“We’re seeing a lot of patients with coughing, dry cough, and patients who have asthma who are just having an increase trouble breathing and their inhalers just aren’t helping them because of the air quality,” says Dr. Larry Satkowiak.

He says they can limit the risk by staying inside and avoiding the outdoors. The Valley Air District has extended the health alert until the fire is extinguished.