Smoke covers valley

Smoke from several major California fires continues to blanket Northern Nevada, including Churchill County.

Smoke from several major California fires continues to blanket Northern Nevada, including Churchill County.

Air quality levels in the Lahontan Valley are expected to be in the poor to average range for the rest of the week because of smoke coming from major California fires, health officials report.

Smoke has covered the area since early last week and became worse as the week continued. So far the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park has burned more than 150,000 acres or the size of Chicago and the American Fire northeast of Foresthill, Calif., has scorched more than 25,000 acres and should be contained Sunday. Because of northerly wind patterns skirting the Sierra foothills, the smoke from those two fires has blanketed most of western Nevada.

On Monday, though, the Churchill County School District decided to restrict elementary students from going out for recess because of the smoke.

“We needed to restrict students from going outside,” said Dr. Sheldon, superintendent of schools.

As for after-school athletic practices, she said coaches are having light schedules.

“We’re monitoring it,” Sheldon said of air quality. I’m telling the principals to have an alternate plan in case we cancel outside P.E.”

Sheldon said students who have respiratory problems are being kept indoors.

Athletic director Brad Daum said the high school athletic teams practiced indoors since late last week and did not practice outside on Tuesday. Daum, though, said the football scrimmage between Fallon and Fernley was pushed back to Thursday afternoon.

“If we can’t have the scrimmage, then we’ll probably have to scrap it because we both play next week,” Daum said.

Business is as usual, reports Banner Churchill Community Hospital.

Dr. Eric Robinson, an emergency medical physician, said the hospital has not seen any major increases in the last 10 days from people who may have respiratory illnesses.

“From the emergency medical standpoint, people are taking precautions, especially those who have a history of respiratory ailments,” Robinson said.

He advises people who venture outside to wear a mask to reduce inhaled particle matter.

“But I think a lot of people are staying in,” he said.

Flying has been restricted at Naval Air Station Fallon, said spokesman Zip Upham.

Flights were curtailed Thursday and Friday during the day and restricted at night because of smoke. No flights were conducted during the weekend.

“The ability to launch is easy during the day, but night is restricted because of visibility,” Upham said. “Everything is done on a case by case situation.”

Since the base does not have a carrier air wing, Upham said the restricted flying time has not impacted the air station.

He also said outside activities have been curtailed.

“There’s no restricted activity with this type of smoke, but it affects people differently,” Upham added.


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