Forest fires in California, Oregon, and Washington have created dangerous air conditions throughout the western United States as smoke from the devastating flames extends for thousands of kilometers.
Air quality in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles is currently among the worst in the world.
In the Bay Area, air purifiers are sold out in stores as residents seek refuge from the flames that have been going on since August. The fires charred over 3.2 million acres and destroyed approximately 4,000 buildings in California, killing at least 22 people. Governor Gavin Newsom said the air quality in forest fire zones is “equivalent to smoking 20 packs of cigarettes”
Sameh Tamimi, who works for a heating and HVAC company in San Francisco, told NBC Bay Area that his company receives more than 130 calls a day to change air conditioning filters or install an additional filter system. The most popular items in local Ace hardware stores right now are n95 masks and home air purifiers.
In yet another sign of precarious air quality in the Bay Area, the NFL said in a statement Sunday that it is monitoring conditions to see if it is safe for the San Francisco 49ers game to be played at their home ground.
By Sunday morning, at least 10 people had died in the fires in Oregon, where smoke made air quality toxic. In Portland, volunteers hand out masks to those in need, especially since forest fire smoke can irritate your lungs and make you more susceptible to infections, including coronaviruses, according to the CDC.
In Washington state officials urged residents to stay indoors, close windows, and avoid strenuous exercise outdoors to avoid the dangerous air quality. The country that burned down in Washington last week was already the second worst fire season in the state 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 bad it caused his asthma.
“I had to use my inhaler for the first time in months,” he said.
Allison Park contributed.