Smoke from Soberanes Fire affecting SLO County's air quality

Jul 25, 2016

UPDATE: July 26, 2016 at 12:43 p.m.

Air patterns over California's Central Coast are pushing smoke from Monterey County's Soberanes Fire south into San Luis Obispo County, initiating an Air Quality Alert on Tuesday.

The San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District (APCD) said in a statement that "skies are hazy and fine particulate concentrations are higher than normal" because of the fire.

Levels of particulates may be high enough in some areas that even healthy people could be affected, according to the release.

"When it is obvious that smoke is in the air, individuals should avoid strenuous outdoor activity and remain indoors as much as possible," the APCD said Tuesday. "These precautions are especially important for people with existing respiratory illness and heart conditions, as they are particularly vulnerable to the health effects of declining air quality."

Ash from the fire is also causing problems in some areas. APCD said to clean ash, use a damp closth and spray areas lightly with water.

"Please note, if you have existing heart or lung conditions, avoid doing ash clean-up yourself or anything else that stirs the particles back up into the air," said APCD in the statement. "In addition, do not allow children to play in the ash."

Air conditions will continue to be monitored by APCD for smoke impacts and quality.

Original Story:

The Soberanes Fire burning just to the north of San Luis Obispo County along the Big Sur Coast grew to nearly 15,000 acres on Monday. 

Estimates released Monday by Cal Fire show just five percent containment, with 1650 structures threatened.

As of this posting, 20 homes and two outbuildings had been destroyed.

The Monterey County Sheriff's Department said Monday that evacuation orders were in place for portions of the Carmel Highlands, east of Highway One.  Mandatory evacuations were in effect for Palo Colorado, Rocky Creek, Weston Ridge Road, Highway 1 at Old Coast Road south to Old Coast Road at Bixby Creek Road, and Garrapatos Road.

An evacuation center has been opened at Carmel Middle School.

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is closed until further notice, as are Andrew Molera and Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Parks, and Pt. Sur Lighthouse State Historic Park. Several trails are closed in the area as well.

High temperatures and low humidity are complicating fire-fighting efforts.

Highway 1 is subject to delays and possible closures based on the fire's activity.