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School district, health officer monitoring air quality

Steve Ranson
sranson@lahontanvalleynews.com
The smoke was so heavy in CarsonCity on Sunday that motorists on Fairview Drive could not see the mountains.
STEVE RANSON / LVN |

The recent smoke floating into the Lahontan Valley because of two major fires in California has not hampered daily activities like a similar situation in 2013.

The Butte Fire north of Angel’s Camp in Sonora County has burned more than 71,000 acres since it began one week ago, reports the Cal Fire incident site. Since then, 166 homes and 116 outbuildings have burned.

The Valley Fire northeast of San Francisco has burned about 67,000 acres. These are two of 11 fires burning in California, reports Cal Fire.

On Sunday, the smoke was so thick in the Carson City area that visibility was poor.

Churchill County School District Superintendent Dr. Sandra Sheldon said the district has been monitoring air quality and checking on conditions in Reno, which has been hit harder.

However, since the weekend, a strong easterly pattern is sweeping across the Great Basin with gusty winds up to 30 mph and cooler daytime temperatures in the 70s.

Sheldon said she is working closely with the district’s chief nurse, Stephanie Utz, to assess the air quality and students’ health.

As of Tuesday, no steps have been taken to curtail outside activity or athletics unless students who have respiratory problems must stay inside.

Churchill County’s health officer, Dr. Tedd McDonald, said several people with upper respiratory problems were seen at Banner Churchill Community Hospital’s emergency room. He said he was pleased the school district has been monitoring the situation and also checking with conditions in Reno since neither the Lahontan Valley or Naval Air Station Fallon do not have measurement devices to check air particles. McDonald said the equipment monitors the particle density of mainstream smoke.

McDonald said the situation two years ago was much worse when air quality was classified as poor, and outside activities were suspended. The Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park had burned more than 150,000 acres or the size of Chicago and the American Fire northeast of Foresthill, Calif., scorched more than 25,000 acres.