SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — With the Dixie Fire in its third week, all the fire’s hazards are not just on the ground.
Hundreds of miles away, the smoke and particulate matter from the fire are causing health concerns.
During heat waves this summer, Sacramento city leaders have opened cooling centers and considering opening clean air centers if the city’s air quality worsens.
The trigger for such openings would be based on a determination of hazardous air by Sacramento air quality managers and the Sacramento County Department of Public Health.
Although air quality dropped last week due to California’s wildfires burning north, the air quality didn’t drop low enough to start the process of opening clean air centers.
Since community centers would double as clean air centers, providing for all the needs of the public requires a delicate balancing act.
“There’s oftentimes youth programming, there’s senior programs, there’s food distribution going through there,” explained City of Sacramento Director of Emergency Management Daniel Bowers. “Over the course of the pandemic when schools were closed, a lot of times they were actually pseudo classroom environments, we’ve also ran vaccine pop-up clinics out of there. With that perspective in mind, we’re prioritizing what programs get shut down.”
Bowers said he spent the weekend deployed to the River Fire to help with incident command and has seen firsthand how bad the air can get.
The city won’t hesitate to opt for shut down if conditions warrant the need and the city can have one of their clean air centers up and running in about 30 minutes once the call is made.
If a center does open in the future, remember they are for anyone, including those who may not have great ventilation or well-sealed rooms at home, not just the unhoused.