Fires in California, Oregon and Washington have created dangerous air conditions throughout the western United States as smoke from the devastating flames stretches for thousands of miles.
Air quality in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles is currently among the worst in the world.
In the Bay Area, stores have run out of air purifiers as residents seek refuge from the fires that have lasted since August. The fires charred over 3.2 million acres and destroyed about 4,000 structures in California, killing at least 22 people. Governor Gavin Newsom said the air quality in the fire zones “is equivalent to smoking 20 packs of cigarettes”
Sameh Tamimi, who works in a heating and HVAC service in San Francisco, told NBC Bay Area that his company receives more than 130 calls every day to replace air conditioning filters or install an additional filter system. The most popular items at local Ace hardware stores are currently n95 masks and home air purifiers.
In another sign of poor air quality in the Bay Area, the NFL said in a statement on Sunday that it is monitoring conditions to determine if it is safe for the San Francisco 49ers’ game to take place in their home stadium.
As of Sunday morning, at least 10 people have died from fires in Oregon, where smoke has made air quality toxic. In Portland, volunteers are handing out masks to those in need, especially as the CDC says smoke from fires can irritate your lungs and make you more prone to infections, including coronavirus.
In Washington state, officials told residents to stay indoors, close windows, and avoid strenuous outdoor exercise to avoid dangerous air quality. The scorched earth in Washington in the past week has already been the state’s second worst fire season, after 2015, said Governor Jay Inslee, who calls the fires “climate fires.”
In Nevada, Frank Satterfield Jr., a 30-year-old IT systems analyst and longtime Las Vegas resident, said the smoke from other states was so strong that it caused his asthma.
“I actually had to use my inhaler for the first time in months,” he said.
Allison Park contributed.