Smoke advisory issued for Eastern Sierra

Smoke advisory issued for Eastern SierraBy REBECCA NEIPP

News Review Staff Writer

The Kern River Ranger District of the Sequoia National Forest issued a smoke advisory Thursday, warning about forecasts of fine particulate matter clouding the skies over nearby communities.

“Smoke from Northern California will impact San Joaquin Valley and western communities today,” stated the report. “Westerly winds this morning will move smoke into the Eastern Sierra. Diurnal winds will continue to bring smoke into Kernville and the surrounding communities.”

While a haze has been visible hovering over Indian Wells Valley skies for the last few weeks, that has culminating in a billow of smoke creeping over the mountains most evenings.

Reports indicate that fires raging in Northern California are among the most destructive in our state’s history. At press time nearly two dozen fatalities had been attributed to the fires, and hundreds more were still missing.

Closer to home, on a smaller scale, the Lion Fire has progressed down the White and Angora Mountains, and the Pier Fire continues to burn near Camp Nelson and Springville.

The National Weather Service has ongoing warnings to the public that, even in areas untouched by the fires, exposure to particle pollution can cause serious health problems, including the aggravation of lung disease, asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory infections.

“We have, just because of how much sand there is here, a lot of dust particulate in the air, which causes problems,” Ridgecrest Regional Hospital respiratory therapist Gerald McDaniel told the News Review last year when similar conditions reigned.

That can be exacerbated by pollens unique to our area, but “smoke just makes everything worse.”

He said that irritants introduced by smoke trigger inflammation in chronic conditions such as asthma.

McDaniel encouraged everyone experiencing distress to contact their physicians. “If you communicate the issues you are having, your doctor can decide whether you need to come in for an office visit or whether you need to seek more urgent treatment.”

He also recommended that everyone with respiratory sensitivities, or other health conditions known to be exacerbated by particulate matter, be aware of their surroundings and take action early.

“Health care is really moving to the prevention side of things,” said McDaniel. “The big thing for asth- matics is to stay on their medications and keep ahead of potential illness. There is always a chance that when people are feeling fine, they decide not to stay on their medication. But then when the smoke hits, you are already in a compromised state.”

He cautioned those at risk to stay aware of their surroundings, stay indoors when necessary and wear masks outdoors if possible.

Pictured: Smokey haze obscures Thursday morning’s sunrise. -- Photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2017-10-13