Wildfires in California, Oregon and Washington have created hazardous air conditions throughout the Western United States as smoke from the devastating blazes stretches for thousands of miles.
Air quality in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles is currently some of the worst in the world.
In the Bay Area, stores have sold out of air purifiers as residents seek refuge from the blazes which have lasted since August. The fires have charred over 3.2 million acres and destroyed about 4,000 structures in California, killing at least 22 people. Gov. Gavin Newsom stated that the air quality in wildfire zones “is equivalent to smoking 20 packs of cigarettes.”
Sameh Tamimi, who works at a heating and HVAC service in San Francisco, told NBC Bay Area that his company is receiving more than 130 calls every day to replace air conditioning filters or install an added filtration system. The most popular items at local Ace Hardware stores are currently n95 masks and home air purifiers.
In another sign of the precarious air quality in the Bay Area, the NFL said in a Sunday statement it is monitoring conditions to determine if it’s safe for the San Francisco 49ers game to be held at their home stadium.
As of Sunday morning, at least 10 people have died due to the fires in the Oregon, where smoke has turned air quality toxic. In Portland, volunteers are distributing masks to those in need, especially since the CDC says that wildfire smoke can irritate your lungs and make you more prone to infections, including to coronavirus.
In Washington state, officials told residents to stay indoors, close windows and avoid strenuous exercise outdoors to avoid the dangerous air quality. The land burned in Washington in just the past week has already amounted to the state’s second-worst fire season, after 2015, Gov. Jay Inslee said, who is calling the fires “climate fires.”
In Nevada, Frank Satterfield Jr., a 30 year old IT system analyst and longtime Las Vegas resident, said the smoke drifting in from the other states has been so bad it’s triggered his asthma.
“I actually had to use my inhaler for the first time in months,” he said.
Allison Park contributed.