Region Braces for More Heat, Smoky Conditions

SACRAMENTO -- Firefighters in Sacramento battled several fires and hot temperatures Thursday afternoon. Three separate fires started, all in the same vicinity, all within about an hour of one another.

"While these are not big fires, the excessive heat is a potential danger to our crews and to the public," said spokesman Roberto Padilla.

Extreme working conditions are nothing new for fire crews, but with the potential for fire danger soaring over the next couple of days, firefighters expect to be busy and let their training take over.

"In just a matter of five or 10 minutes a firefighter could easily be overcome by heat. But again, we stay very hydrated. Physical fitness is the utmost importance for us. You put that all together, and that is why we are able to do this job and everyone feels safe when we're out here," Padilla said.

It's not just going to be hot here the next couple of days, it's going to be hot everywhere. From the Bay to the foothills, and especially here in the valley. And it's not just the heat that we'll have to contend with, it's also air quality.

"In addition to ozone levels that will be increasing throughout the next couple of days, we've issued a Spare the Air alert for that and encourage people to reduce their driving to prevent that pollutant from increasing, but we're also looking at high particulate matter. That is coming from the wildfires' smoke that is being transported into the region," said Lori Kobza, an air quality spokesperson.

A shift in the wind, which will be blowing from the northwest Thursday night, will bring smoke from wildfires as far north as Southern Oregon.

"We're expecting more of an impact tomorrow morning because of the overnight drainage and the winds coming from the northwest are going to bring it right into our valley. And then, as the day continues, it's just going to settle here," Kobza said.

The heat and smoke combine for a double-whammy. And they're coming just in time for Friday night high school football.

According to the Sac-Joaquin Section website, a total of 26 games have had their start times pushed back -- some as late as 9 p.m. to allow the sun to go down and the region to cool a bit for the athletes.

"I don't think we've every dealt with anything of this nature. Certainly it's been decades since we've had forecasts of 109, 110, 111 degrees on a Friday night," said Sac-Joaquin Section Assistant Commissioner Will DeBoard.