Wildfire smoke blankets Davis

JEREMY DANG / AGGIE

Effect of wildfires all over Northern California on Davis

Since Monday, Oct. 2, smoke has been floating in and out of Davis, blanketing the city. The smoke was largely due to a fire at Northern Recycling, a compost facility in Zamora, Calif. The Yolo-Solano Air Quality Management District sent out a mass alert the day the foul-smelling fog appeared.

Jenny Tan, the public information officer from YSAQMD, commented on the Zamora fire situation via email.

“The fire started Sunday night on 10/1 around 10:30 pm and on Monday 10/2 we immediately sent staff to investigate the issue,” Tan said. “Also on Monday, the District sent out our first smoke alert to notify residents that smoke was impacting Woodland, Davis, Zamora and some of the surrounding communities. We sent another alert Monday night and the third Tuesday morning, 10/3. There were still parts in the recycling plant that were smoldering on Wednesday, but it was much better than what was seen on Monday. The cooler weather over the past weekend helped with the smoldering.”

The Zamora fire burned out in the days following the smog’s appearance. Now, wildfires are sprouting up all over Northern California, affecting Napa, Sonoma, Yuba, Butte, Nevada, Calaveras and Mendocino. Unpredictable winds have blown smoke from these fires over to Yolo County, often putting Davis under a cover of uncomfortable smoke.

Though only the smoke touched Davis, UC Davis’ own firefighters were among thousands of California firefighters who were dispatched to contain the actual fires.

Battalion Chief Nate Hartinger is assigned to the LaPorte Fire in Butte County. The fire has merged with another nearby fire, the Cascade Fire,” said UC Davis Fire Chief Nathan Trauernicht. “Our type III Engine (Wildland Fire Truck) was initially assigned to the point fire near the Stanislaus National Forest. They have been reassigned to head toward the Napa Fairgrounds this morning in preparation for today’s north wind. On the engine is Captain Dave Stiles, engineer Kyle Dubs, firefighter Jon Poganski and firefighter Gerrit Dykzeul.”

Trauernicht emphasized that, although the fires are a serious natural disaster, they don’t currently pose an imminent threat to the city of Davis. His main concern was the smoke that plagues the city’s skies.

“The source of the [current] smoke is about 17 major wildfires that are burning in Northern California right now,” Trauernicht said. “Closest to us are the fires in Napa, Lake and Sonoma County. Butte County is to the east of us. We’re surrounded […but] there’s at least one county between us and all of the active fires right now, so there’s no threat to Davis or the campus.”

Trauernicht elaborated on the potential duration of the smoke in Davis.

“At this point, we really don’t know,” Trauernicht said. “It all depends on which way the wind blows. People should anticipate periods of smoke off and on, at least for the next several days.”

To stay updated on the fire’s placements and smoke alerts, follow the UC Davis Fire Department’s Twitter or sign up for YSAQMD’s air quality alerts.

While the smoke may be a mild irritant to Davis residents, its sources are a much more dangerous issue for other Californians and for the firefighters working to contain the blazes. Inconsistent and strong winds have pushed the fire into neighboring counties, and, as of Oct. 11, the fire has spread into neighboring Solano County, which is located near Fairfield. At the time of publication, 33 Californians have lost their lives, thousands of California residents have lost their homes, and thousands more have been left without electricity. Students have already started volunteering and sending aid to those affected, creating Facebook donation pools and crowdfunding pages. Though the fires haven’t touched Davis, many local students and residents have been personally affected by the blazes. Some air quality alerts and evacuations are being announced to ensure the public’s safety while the situation is handled.

 

Written by: Ahash Francis — city@theaggie.org