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Wildfire smoke and smog trigger Spare the Air alert for Wednesday

Jun 12, 2023

A Spare the Air alert was issued Wednesday, with smoky skies and smog covering much of the Bay Area.

Air quality dropped to “unhealthy for sensitive groups” in the East and South Bay, according to the Bay Area Quality Management District, caused both by smog as well as smoke from fires in Oregon and Northern California.

“Definitely, over the past few days I’ve smelled smoke, but wasn’t sure where it was coming from,” said San Jose resident Sharlee DeAngelo, “but then you hear on the news, and that’s where you assume it’s from.”

DeAngelo was running errands before the worst of the smog settled in Wednesday. She said she was taking precautions for the sake of her child and because she had another on the way.

“You do have to live your life, but it is always challenging balancing what’s safe and what’s not,” said DeAngelo.

The district said high temperatures exacerbated the problem.

“This is going to be the highest levels at the hottest parts of the day, so we’re encouraging residents to avoid outdoor exercise during those hottest parts of the day when those pollutant levels will be highest,” said Tina Landis, a public information officer with the district.

The haze and smoke was so bad that the Cal Fire CZU Unit, which covers parts of San Mateo to Santa Cruz, said it got more than a dozen calls from concerned people.

To confirm there was no fire in the area and to ease people’s fears, especially in the wake of the disastrous CZU Lighting Complex fires in 2020, Cal Fire did dispatch some units Wednesday.

“These are the highest readings we’re seeing for wildfire smoke that we’ve seen this season,” said Landis. “But it’s not getting to the point of exceeding air quality standards yet. Hopefully it won’t.”

Some schools around the Bay Area also kept young students inside during lunch to avoid any risk of the haze triggering respiratory issues.

While the Spare the Air alert is only active through Wednesday, the district did also issue an air advisory for wildfire smoke through Thursday.

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