Brian Sandford

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August 23, 2013
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Event cancellations mount as Carson's air quality is designated 'very unhealthy'

Event cancellations have been mounting today as heavy smoke continues to linger in Carson City and surrounding areas, prompting a “very unhealthy” air quality designation from the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection.

And relief might be days away.

School officials canceled all outdoor activities in Carson City and Douglas County. All Carson City outdoor sports facilities — Edmonds Sports Complex, Governors Field and the JohnD Winters Centennial Park softball complex — are closed today and will remain closed through the weekend if conditions don’t improve, according to Parks & Recreation director Scott Fahrenbruch.

That’s unlikely to happen, said Dawn Johnson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Reno.

She said wind is blowing smoke from the Rim fire, which crept from Stanislaus National Forest into a remote area of Yosemite National Park today, directly toward Carson City. Smoke from the American fire at Foresthill, Calif., also remains.

“Rim fire is so large and so hot that it’s creating its own weather,” she said. “Here, it’s doing nothing other than bringing us smoke and haze.”

The wind direction isn’t likely to change much, Johnson said, adding that “unless the winds go due west, it’s going to keep spilling into Carson-Minden.”

She pointed out that the Rim fire has been growing rapidly, tripling in size from Wednesday to Thursday and then doubling in size between Thursday and today.

Smoke from the fire has been reaching 35,000 feet, Johnson said.

“If it continues to burn as it has been burning, we’re going to keep getting smoke, probably for the next week,” she said.

A Star Party set for 9 p.m. today at River Fork Ranch in Carson Valley has been canceled. The same goes for tonight’s Concert in the Park in Minden and HopeFest 2013, a concert to benefit area cancer patients. Saturday’s 3rd and Curry St. Farmer’s Market and this weekend’s Reno Aces games remain on tap, said Aces spokeswoman Shannon Siders. Saturday’s Expedition Man triathlon, which runs through Carson City, also is still planned.

The “very unhealthy” designation is expected to remain in effect in Carson City and Douglas County through the weekend. People are urged to reduce prolonged or heavy exertion. The elderly, the young and people with heart or lung disease are advised to avoid exertion.

At the site of the fire, authorities urged more evacuations Friday. Thousands already have been forced out by flames.

The fire was threatening about 4,500 residences, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Already, the blaze has destroyed four homes and 12 outbuildings. More than 2,000 firefighters were on the lines, and one suffered a heat-related injury.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Aug 23, 2013 11:23PM Published Aug 23, 2013 12:51PM Copyright 2013 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.