The unholy trinity of the Dixie, Caldor, and Cache fires are smoking up Bay Area skies, and a Spare the Air alert is in effect for Thursday and Friday.
We all kind of knew that the “Apocalypse Orange” skies were going to come back at some point in late summer, and in some parts of California, they already have. And now, with the long-running Dixie Fire now more than a month old, the Caldor Fire showing “unprecedented” behavior, and the Cache Fire bringing yet another wildfire nightmare to Lake County, the accumulating smoke, ash, and dust brought orange skies back to the Bay Area at sundown Wednesday night, and sunrise Thursday morning.
You may have found a little coat of ash on cars this morning, and the Bay Area Air District has declared a Spare the Air alert that remains in effect Thursday and Friday. That means wood burning is prohibited, and if you smell smoke, you’re encouraged to stay indoors and avoid exposure.
A #SparetheAir Alert has been issued for today, 8/19 & tomorrow, 8/20. Smoke from the numerous wildfires is impacting air quality in the Bay Area. Wood burning is banned. If you smell smoke, avoid exposure by staying indoors, if heat is not an issue. More: https://t.co/wbkYMspD80 pic.twitter.com/ZqycuKKy5Z— Spare The Air (@SpareTheAir) August 19, 2021
A big contributor here is the Dixie Fire, and as the Chronicle reports, it’s the first fire in state history to cover the entire east-to-west span of the Sierra Nevada mountains. You can see this terrifying fact for yourself in the below image from a NASA satellite. As of last night, that fire had grown to more than 660,000 acres, having grown by about 36,000 acres in just 24 hours, and is still only 35% contained. This now month-old blaze is turning into the “long COVID” of California wildfires.
#NASA's MODIS sensor acquired this image of fires burning in #California. Smoke from the wildfires spread eastward over the #USA.#Caldorfire #GlenFire #wildfiresmoke #DixieFire pic.twitter.com/AfQPeyHVln— NASA MODIS Imagery (@NASA_MODIS) August 19, 2021
Meanwhile, the Caldor Fire is now 20 times larger than it was Tuesday, and at the moment, that fire is 0% contained according to Cal Fire data. Nearly 17,000 people have been evacuated from El Dorado County because of that blaze.
Parts of San Francisco awoke to orange, hazy skies Thursday.— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) August 19, 2021
Here’s a look at Bay Area air quality: https://t.co/AsueuhNTDH
The smoggy skies and terrible air are unwelcome, but in the Bay Area we’re certainly more fortunate than those in the affected wildfire areas. For now, the unhealthiness level is “Moderate,” according to the Chronicle’s very helpful California Air Quality Map. In fact, most of the Bay Area is in that yellow “moderate” zone. But everyone realizes the direction this is trending, and it is trending toward orange.
Image: @djbaskin via Twitter