As the Willow and Bear fires continue to burn in Yuba County, and with several other fires around the region, here is an overview of what can be expected, according to local officials:
With another weather system moving in that is forecast to bring wind to the Yuba-Sutter area, Michelle Mead, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service-Sacramento office, said the smoky conditions will ebb and flow over the next few days but the area will likely remain hazy.
“We hope these winds will clear out the Valley some this afternoon, “ said Mead. “But that is not likely going to last.”
According to Mead, the Yuba-Sutter region is just on the fringe of the push of the delta winds so, while they are expected to push some of the smoke out of the area, the smoky cloud cover is likely to remain in place.
Mead said temperatures are forecast to be slightly cooler this week and daytime highs are expected to be between 85 and 90 degrees.
Beginning Thursday, Mead said a cold front will be moving into the area that is anticipated to continue into the weekend. The cold front is forecast to bring higher humidity levels to the area, decreasing fire weather concerns in the area of the North Complex Fire.
As of Monday, air quality in the Yuba-Sutter region was listed as unhealthy, according to www.airnow.gov, and is expected to stay at that level for at least the next few days.
Air quality in some parts of the Yuba-Sutter-Colusa region reached extremely unhealthy levels over the weekend, the tier just before the levels are considered hazardous.
In response, the Colusa County Air Pollution Control District has extended the air quality advisory in effect in Colusa County through Thursday. Air quality in that area was in the unhealthy range as well as of Monday and is anticipated to move back into the very unhealthy range as the week continues.
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. spokesperson Paul Moreno said power has been restored to nearly all Yuba County customers impacted by Cal Fire’s request last week to keep power lines de-energized in the area of the fire to assist firefighting efforts and to keep firefighters safe.
Moreno said over the weekend the utility was granted access to the areas of concern to assess, make repairs and restore where there had been damage and, after doing so, PG&E was able to re-energize power in this area.
There were still a few customers that are served by circuits near Forbestown that were still without power as of midday Monday, said Moreno.
According to Moreno, there is a planned outage that will impact 61 customers in Yuba County near Bangor, but that outage is not due to the fires or a power shutoff event.
Bi-County Health Officer Dr. Phuong Luu said there has been an increase in visits to the Emergency Department at Adventist/Health Rideout for respiratory symptoms due to the poor air quality.
That is why it is very important for residents to remain indoors as much as possible at this time, said Luu, especially those in sensitive groups with heart disease, respiratory issues, the elderly, pregnant women and young children.
According to Luu, patients that have tested positive for COVID-19 are not currently experiencing more severe symptoms due to the smoke and ash in the air but that is still a possibility.
“When the lungs are already stressed due to one respiratory insult from poor air quality/pollutants, it can make it worse to deal with another respiratory insult (like) COVID-19,” said Luu.
Health officials are also concerned that the poor air quality can more severely affect those with respiratory issues, including anyone who is sick with COVID, the flu, or any other virus, and those suffering from respiratory symptoms like cough or shortness of breath.
With flu season upon us, Luu urges residents to get a flu vaccine as soon as possible to mitigate getting the flu while air quality and COVID-19 are also still great concerns.
How to Help
Grange Co-op is working with Yuba Habitat for Humanity to collect donations for livestock and pets displaced by the local fires.
According to a release issued by the Grange Co-op, all locations, including the Yuba City store located at 1262 Stabler Lane, will be accepting pet and livestock donations.
“Grange Co-op is also providing customers the opportunity to round up their transactions at check-out,” it was stated in the release. “Proceeds collected will go directly to local fire relief efforts. Donations will remain in the community in which they are donated.”
Yuba County’s Yuba Enterprise Solutions team, in partnership with Yuba-Sutter Economic Development Corporation and California Office of Emergency Services, will host a free personal protective equipment drive today (Tuesday) at Washington Square Park, between D and E streets in Marysville, from 7:45-11:30 a.m.
Masks and hand sanitizer will be available for local small businesses at the distribution event. There will also be sanitizing wipes available to the first 80 participants.