Smoke from Dixie Fire drifts into Sacramento Valley


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Wednesday’s air quality index in the Greater Sacramento region hit unhealthy to very unhealthy levels in some areas, causing people to stay indoors or mask up for a different reason.

What would otherwise be a sunny day near the Tower Bridge in downtown Sacramento was a hot, hazy and smoky day. 

Much of the poor air quality stemmed from the Dixie Fire that continues to burn 100 miles away and has scorched over 200,000 acres so far.

Smoke from the fire began to blow in due to northerly winds in the morning. Pollutants then get trapped in the air, creating what looked like a thick layer of fog over the region. 

Professor Michael Kleeman, who studies air quality at the University of California, Davis, said while great efforts have been made to reduce the number of pollutants that are emitted in our cities, wildfires will continue to exacerbate our poor air quality days.

“Wildfires now are getting worse and worse, so they’re more and more a part of what we worry for air quality, and I think that’s only going to get worse moving forward,” Kleeman told FOX40.

A live map on the Air Now website shows the wind movement and the levels of air quality. In the downtown Sacramento region, red and purple suggest unhealthy to very unhealthy breathing conditions. In the Arden-Arcade area, levels were surpassing 200 and reaching 300 on the air quality index.

Kleeman said the best way to avoid poor air is simple: stay inside.

“If it’s above 100, then I would definitely curtail my outdoor activities,” he said. “I wouldn’t go for a run on a day where the AQI is above 100 and I wouldn’t send my kids out to play soccer.” 

Meanwhile, Jamie Arno with the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District said, thankfully, this won’t last forever. 

“We have a Delta breeze coming,” Arno explained. “That Delta breeze is going to come later this afternoon, that’s going to push a lot of the majority of the smoke out of the area. We may see some lingering smoke effects tomorrow, but it’s definitely going to be cleaning out over the next few days.”

Arno suggests those who want to keep track of the air quality should download the Sacramento Region Air Quality Map, which has forecasts and real-time AQI updates. 

On top of the smoke, the Sacramento region is expected to hit forecasted highs in the triple digits over the next few days.