Smell smoke? NorCal, Oregon wildfires are impacting Bay Area air quality

BySuzanne Phan KGO logo
Wednesday, September 20, 2023
Wildfire smoke impacting Bay Area air quality
An air quality advisory has been issued for the San Francisco Bay Area due to wildfires burning in Northern California and Oregon.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- There was so much smoke in the Bay Area Tuesday that you could hardly see the Bay Bridge. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District issued an air quality advisory for Tuesday and Wednesday because of smoke coming into the region from wildfires further north in California and Oregon.

"It's really bad. Usually you can see East Bay," said Shruy Sethi of San Francisco.

The smoke is so thick -- from the Port of Oakland, you could barely see the San Francisco skyline.

Track air quality levels with our interactive map below.

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People all around the bay were seeing, smelling, and feeling it.

"It's very smoky. It smells like a campfire," said Sarah Ryherd of San Francisco.

"I started to feel it in my throat. Now I have a mask on," said Theo Tsang, a San Francisco resident.

The wildfire smoke is not expected to exceed national health standards or prompt a Spare the Air alert, air district officials said.

In the East Bay, some high schools canceled sports practices because of the bad air quality.

But student tennis player Aamena Shipchandler had no issues in Lafayette.

MORE: California wildfires: Expert says get used to smoky skies, bad air quality for decades to come

"I don't think it's too bad just yet. But the next few days could affect our playing," said Shipchandler.

Air quality experts say we could expect to see impacts for the next couple of days.

"These fires up north in California and southern Oregon have kind of picked up over the weekend. Unfortunately, the weather patterns have changed and it's just bringing it over us now," said Aaron Richardson with the Bay Air Quality Management District. "There may be some short term patches of unhealthy air quality so people should take precautions."

In North Beach at Cole Hardware Store, people have been stopping in and buying face masks.

"I've had a couple come in but I expect more to come in shortly," said Store employee Frank O'Connell.

On this Tuesday night, an orange haze hangs over Cupertino in the South Bay.

MORE: Track wildfires across San Francisco Bay Area, other parts of California with this interactive map

"With someone like me with autoimmune deficiencies, it's kind of difficult to get through with your day to day life," said Los Gatos Resident Trevor Dysinger.

Experts say, if you need to, stay indoors and keep our windows closed if possible or seek out a cooling center.

Anyone who smells smoke is advised to stay inside with windows and doors closed and to set air conditioning units and car vent systems to re-circulate to stop outside air from coming inside, according to the air district.

A Fire Weather Watch goes up Wednesday from 11 p.m. until 11 a.m. Thursday for the North Bay Hills and until 6 p.m. for Solano County.

ABC7 Meteorologist Sandhya Patel says gusty winds and low humidity will mean any fires that break out will grow quickly.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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