Lake Tahoe Town Air Quality Spikes to Jaw-Dropping 694 API Due to Wildfire Smoke

by Courtney Blackann

California can’t catch a break. After the Caldor Fire burned over 100,000 acres this week, the communities around Lake Tahoe are experiencing incredibly poor air quality to boot.

The fires have been raging since Aug. 14. After the Dixie Fire gripped the state, burning almost 500,000 acres, the Caldor Fire blazed through El Dorado County.

Now, the concerns are growing due to air quality. And officials are warning residents to stay inside with both doors and windows closed.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) indicated that the quality of air reached 694, with nasty, brown smoke filling the region. This number is a significant health risk, according to a report from CNN.

An AQI between 300 and 500 is a major risk. The measure of 694 indicates it’s absolutely unsafe for residents of the area to remain outside for any length of time.

Not only is Tahoe in jeopardy, but Reno is as well.

“For those of you wondering if the air quality yesterday was the worst ever in the Reno/Sparks area … the answer is an unfortunate yes,” the National Weather Service in Reno tweeted Monday, according to CNN.

The suffering continues as officials monitor the conditions.

The Caldor Wildfire Effects

An absolute tragedy, more than 447 homes and six commercial structures are left singed in the fires overtaking El Dorado County.

Officials worked quickly to contain what they could with the fire threatening to expand. Thousands evacuated from their homes as many evacuation orders sent people away from the damage.

Cal Fire Director Thom Porter warned that the fire is continuing to expand.

“We have all efforts in place to keep it out of the basin, but we do need to also be aware that that is a possibility based on the way the fires have been burning and the concerns that we have been living in all of these other fires and their growth,” Porter said.

Additionally, the Grizzly Flats neighborhood, which housed close to 1,200 people, remains a dusty pile of ashes.

Further, authorities warned that the massive wildfire is only 9 percent contained. It also leaves concerns about additional fires starting.

“One of the things that’s been impacting a lot of these fires is the rollout that’s been occurring, which is dead timber on fire, starting to roll down and it can cross over containment lines and ignite other vegetation along the path,” public information officer for Cal Fire Capt. Keith Wade said.

The combined air quality and wildfire damage have residents wondering what life will be like when they’re able to return home. The pressing issue, now, is to take control of the mess before it continues to spread.