Poor air quality return to SCV amid heat wave

The air over Newhall is laden with a milky haze due to smoke blown into the Santa Clarita Valley from nearby brush fires Monday afternoon. September 07, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.
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Original story posted: 8:36 a.m. Monday, Sept. 7

Most recent update: 3:09 p.m. Monday, Sept. 7

Santa Clarita Valley residents awoke to hazy skies and the smell of smoke on Labor Day, as nearby fires brought poor air quality to the area.

The Bobcat Fire, burning in the Angeles National Forest southeast of the SCV, grew to 4,871 acres overnight after sparking on Sunday afternoon. 

Soot and ash traveling to surrounding areas prompted a smoke advisory Monday, warning residents of the dangers that can come from excessively breathing in an unhealthy level of smoke.

The air over Newhall is laden with a milky haze due to smoke blown into the Santa Clarita Valley from nearby brush fires Monday afternoon. September 07, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

The poor air quality has been caused by a combination of ground-level ozone caused by the high heats and smoke from the ongoing wildfires, according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

This comes as triple-digit temperatures returned to the SCV over the weekend, with parts L.A. County reaching 121 degrees — a record for the county — though National Weather Service officials project temperatures to begin lowering Tuesday. 

A Red Flag warning was put in place as winds picked up, with fire watch weather projected to remain in place into Wednesday. 

“We’re looking on Tuesday for the highs to be around 100 up in Newhall, and a 96 on Wednesday,” said Curt Kaplan, a NWS meteorologist. “That’s typical if the Santa Ana’s blow, they usually are cooler through the interior and warmer along the coastal areas.”  

The air over Newhall is laden with a milky haze due to smoke blown into the Santa Clarita Valley from nearby brush fires Monday afternoon. September 07, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

This, along with extreme fire watch weather, has led the U.S. Forest Service to temporarily close several national forests in the area, including the Angeles National Forest and Los Padres National Forest, which border the SCV.

“Most of California remains under the threat of unprecedented and dangerous fire conditions, with a combination of extreme heat, significant wind events, dry conditions and firefighting resources that are stretched to the limit,” USFS officials said in a news release.

The closures were set to go into effect 5 p.m. Monday and are expected to stay in place for one week before being reevaluated daily as conditions change. The closure includes all USFS roads, trails, campgrounds and day-use sites.

The air over Newhall is laden with a milky haze due to smoke blown into the Santa Clarita Valley from nearby brush fires Monday afternoon. September 07, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

The heat has also kept firefighters in the SCV very busy. Over the weekend, fire personnel responded to 47 medical emergency calls in 24 hours, many of which were heat-related, fire officials said. 

“It’s very very hot out, and today’s one of the hottest days,” Los Angeles County Fire Department Supervisor Cheryl Sims said Sunday. “We’re getting a lot of heat-related calls. People need to stay hydrated.”

The Stevenson Ranch Library, located at 25950 The Old Road, reopened as a cooling center from noon to 6 p.m., for residents to get some free relief from the heat. 

California’s power grid operators also issued a statewide Flex Alert, calling for voluntary electricity conservation through Wednesday each day during peak hours of 3-9 p.m., when energy demand is expected to be the highest.

Both the heat and smoke advisories warns residents, especially children and those with underlying conditions, to limit their outdoor activities as much as possible and stay indoors.

Residents who smell smoke or see ash due to a wildfire should limit their exposure by remaining indoors with windows and doors closed or seeking alternate shelter, and avoiding vigorous physical activity.

 

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