Northern California’s scenic lake getaway is choking on wildfire smoke

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Lake Tahoe is experiencing the worst air quality in the world as wildfires rage on its perimeter.

On Wednesday morning, Purple Air — an air quality monitoring network — reported to NBC Bay Area that the Lake Tahoe region’s air quality was recorded at 530. The air quality index is typically measured on a scale of 0-500. Anything above 300 is considered hazardous and a health emergency.

The dire air quality prompted the California Office of Emergency Services to advise Lake Tahoe residents to “limit outdoor physical activity and stay indoors if possible.”


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The Caldor Fire, which has been been raging for almost two weeks, has since spread to within 20 miles of Lake Tahoe. It has burned 136,643 acres and is only 12 percent contained.

“Critical fuel conditions, steep and rugged terrain still present a challenge for crews,” CalFire reported Thursday morning, adding, “Winds over the fire will be moderate causing a slight reduction in fire behavior, however fire conditions still remain active and challenging.”

Further affecting the air quality is the Tamarack Fire, which is also on the perimeter of Lake Tahoe. Though it is 82 percent contained, spot fires continue to pop up, further complicating efforts.


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