Hazardous air from wildfires blankets Sacramento region again — Red Hawk casino among closures


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Air quality index readings in some parts of the Sacramento region – including Placerville and other parts of the Sierra foothills – broached 1000 on Friday, according to AirNow, a level that’s so hazardous it falls off the edge of most scales.

Wildfire smoke continues to drive up levels of particulate matter 2.5 as the Caldor Fire moves toward Tahoe and other blazes continue to burn. After Reno-area schools closed due to unsafe air quality earlier this week, the Folsom Cordova Unified School District sent an email Friday stating that parents concerned with sending students with health sensitivities to school may stay home due to the air quality, and the absence would be excused by the principal.

Red Hawk Casino east of Shingle Springs announced Friday afternoon it would close “out of an abundance of caution” due to poor air quality. It’s slated to reopen Monday.

Placer County Public Health and Placer County Air Pollution Control District also extended their joint air quality advisory, which will remain in effect until fires are “significantly contained,” to notify the public of continued poor air quality conditions.

While air quality levels vary throughout the region, the outlook for Tahoe and eastern parts of the region is the worst. But anyone who can smell smoke should stay inside and limit activity, according to experts. Here’s a look at Friday readings and forecasts throughout the region.

Truckee and Reno

These two cities are expected to maintain an overall unhealthy for sensitive group AQI, but they’ll experience periods of unhealthy air, too. Sensitive groups include children, the elderly, and people with heart or lung diseases, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Cal Fire and U.S. Forest Service outlook.

Truckee AirNow readings currently run between 120 and 150, and Reno is posting similar numbers.


Tahoe City and Carson City

You should expect the opposite in Tahoe and Carson cities: both are expected to experience mostly unhealthy air, with some periods of slightly less dangerous unhealthy for sensitive groups air.

The current air quality around Tahoe City is sitting near 180, according to AirNow, and Carson City measurements are still elevated around 300.

South Lake Tahoe and Placerville

These towns are experiencing hazardous air quality, which means everyone needs to reduce their exposure as much as possible. Remember, to keep indoor air clean, it’s best not to burn candles, cook without a vent hood or vacuum. Placerville air quality is expected to improve throughout Friday.

Numbers around South Lake Tahoe are topping 600 in some places, and measurements around Placerville still show PM 2.5 levels above 1000, according to AirNow. The city of South Lake Tahoe, in response to questions about tourism, also said those who plan to visit the Tahoe Basin “need to understand that the air quality levels are extremely unhealthy, many of the beaches around the lake are closed, and some businesses have temporarily closed.”


The situation is less dangerous in Sacramento, but AQI is still in the moderate range and is forecasted to reach unhealthy for sensitive group levels. In addition to Sacramento, current readings show Arden Arcade, Auburn, Davis, Grass Valley, Rio Vista, Roseville, Yuba City and Elk Grove in the moderate range. But those levels may reach the unhealthy range Saturday.


Folsom is a different story than other parts of Sacramento County, though: Spare the Air for the Sacramento region issued a real-time notification alerting that Folsom PM 2.5 levels exceeded 300 on Friday, which is considered a hazardous level. That may fall to unhealthy on Saturday, according to AirNow forecasts.

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Mila Jasper is an engagement reporter for The Sacramento Bee. A former Bee intern, Mila also previously reported on information technology for Nextgov. She is a graduate of Northwestern University.

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