Air quality alert extended through Thursday

Nearby wildfires continue to waft smoke into county, the Valley air district says low pressure system may disperse smoke by Thursday

TULARE COUNTY – Wildfire smoke is choking residents in Tulare County as air quality is hovering between unhealthy and very unhealthy. The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District stated on Monday that they extended their air quality alert through Thursday.

The air district said that a low-pressure system looks to be moving through the Valley later this week and could disperse the particulate matter in the air. Obviously, most of the smoke settling in Tulare County is coming from the KNP Complex Fire and the Windy Fire. Fortunately, containment has grown among both and slowed the spread.

As of Monday, the KNP Complex Fire near Three Rivers has burned through 67,708 acres, and is 11% contained. Last week the fire was 47,000 acres and 8% contained. The Windy Fire on the other hand has grown from 85,383 acres last Monday to 94,746 this Monday. Containment has also reached 68% in that fire which is a massive improvement from the 2% a week prior. The estimated containment date on the Windy Fire is next Thursday, Oct. 14, but there is no projected containment date for the KNP Complex Fire.

In the KNP Complex Fire, there are 1,531 personnel made up of 26 crews, 61 engines, 40 water tenders, 21 dozers and 12 helicopters combating the blaze in the Sequoia National Forest. On Sunday night winds caused a spot fire across Mineral King Rd which prompted an Evacuation Order for Crest, Sierra King, Hammond and Oak Grove. As well on Sunday, Oct. 3, firefighters continued with indirect suppression tactics to secure control lines on the northwest perimeter. Tactical firing operations are being used to create a continuous line between previously established control lines and existing or natural holding features such as roads and rock scurries. In Redwood Mountain Grove, crews worked in close coordination with natural resource specialists as they progressed with strategic firing operations in the northwest. Structure protection continues in Eshom, Hartland, Silver City and Mineral King areas.

Reports on the Windy Fire find that crews are concerned with the weather in the mountains. According to the Incident Information System another “very dray, warm and breezy day” was observed across the fire. Reports stated that wind gusts peaked between 15 and 20 miles per hour on Sunday afternoon at most locations. Other locations noted gusts of 25-30 mph along the Kern River drainage.

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