City of Sacramento prepared to open cleaner-air centers should air quality become hazardous

With smoke from the Dixie Fire affecting the Sacramento region, the City of Sacramento is prepared to activate cleaner-air centers should the Sacramento Air Quality Management District and Sacramento County Public Health declare the air quality as hazardous.

“The City has been monitoring local AQI levels, and we are ready to respond immediately if we are notified that cleaner-air centers are needed to ensure public safety,” said Daniel Bowers, director of the City’s Office of Emergency Management.

The best thing people can do during hazardous air quality is remain indoors, Bowers said. For those who can’t remain indoors or depart the area until the air quality improves, the City will activate cleaner-air centers as safe places of respite.

The cleaner-air centers will be staged in various community centers across the city, chosen strategically to meet the needs of all residents, Bowers said, adding that the elderly and children are particularly at risk to the effects of wildfire smoke.

For the activation of cleaner-air centers, the City operates under protocols outlined in the Wildfire Smoke Response Plan, which was created following the 2018 Camp Fire and the passage of Assembly Bill 661.

That bill, from Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, requires the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality District — in consultation with the Sacramento County Public Health Officer, local offices of emergency management and school districts – to develop a cohesive emergency plan for wildfire smoke that specifically addresses vulnerable populations.

Should the air become hazardous, the City’s Office of Emergency Management also will work with community partners to distribute N95 masks to essential workers and unsheltered residents, Bowers said. These distribution efforts will include the City’s newly launched Department of Community Response.

As of Wednesday, smoke from the Dixie Fire had pushed air quality in Sacramento into the unhealthy range. At that level, residents with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children are most at risk, and all residents should limit their outdoor exposure.

Officials from Sacramento Air Quality Management District said they expected the Dixie Fire smoke to be out of the area by Thursday morning, with a Delta breeze from the southwest likely keeping the smoke away from Sacramento through the weekend.

The Dixie Fire, the 14th largest wildfire in state history, has burned more than 215,000 acres in Plumas, Butte and Tehama counties.

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