Northern California has Worst Air Quality in the World

California's most deadly wildfire is still burning

California’s most deadly wildfire is still burning

The Camp Fire roared through the town of Paradise, California and decimated everything in its path and continues to burn.

California has just experienced its deadliest-ever wildfire. The fire may not be as destructive as it was a couple of days ago, yet many Californians must now face the accumulation of toxic and hazardous smoke that plagues the very air that we breathe.

The powerful blaze has destroyed over 10,000 homes, and claimed over 70 lives, with over 1000 people still missing. The 150,000 acres that burned sent fine particles into the air which has created the danger that many in the heavily affected areas are facing. Currently these impacted areas have the worst quality rated air in the world.

Brian Mistler is the executive director of student health and well-being at Humboldt State University.

“The wildfire smoke that is filling the air is a mixture of gases and fine particles from burning trees and other plant materials,” Mistler said. “This smoke can hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system, and worsen chronic heart and lung diseases.”

The areas that are heavily affected by the smoke are mostly south of Butte County. The air in areas like San Rafael, Oakland, and Vacaville are considered “very unhealthy” along with the Sacramento area considered to be “hazardous” by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. Young children, older adults, and those with asthma or with heart or lung conditions are heavily at risk.

The North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District uses the EPA Air Quality Index range to inform people to the quality of air they are breathing. 0-50 is considered good. 51-100 is considered moderate and requires sensitive individuals should limit outdoor use. 101-150 is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups and requires those groups to reduce heavy outdoor exertion. 151-200 is considered unhealthy and sensitive groups should avoid all outdoor exertion. 201-300 is considered very unhealthy and states everyone should avoid prolonged outdoor exertion. Anything higher than 300 is considered hazardous and states everyone should avoid going outside.

Debra Harris is the North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District’s burn program coordinator. Harris said that because of winter conditions temperature inversions are affecting the disbursement of smoke across the state. These conditions are dragging the smoke from Butte County down to the bay area.

The air quality for Eureka is listed at 81, which is moderate and only those with serious health conditions should seek to limit going outdoors.

Not only is the Camp Fire in northern California affecting everyone in the state, but the Woolsey Fire in southern California has also made an impact on hurting our air quality.

Harris said that since last week, “better air” is being brought down from the northern winds.

Recent developments have once again pointed to poor management on part of PG&E as the cause of the Camp Fire. According to PG&E officials, they experienced an outage on a transmission line on the morning of Nov. 8 near the town Pulga, which is where the fire is believed to have started.

Jeffery Kane is an associate professor of fire ecology and fuels management at HSU. Kane believed more can be done to prevent devastating results from wildfire.

“The more fuel there is to burn, the more smoke you will get,” Kane said.

Fuel is regarded as what makes the fire so devastating, because like a car that burns gasoline, fire uses wood the same way. The dry conditions that California has faced also lead into making this “fuel” drier as moisture usually slows down the burning process.

“We have too much fuel in some areas, and when you have more homes surrounded by vegetation, those homes are surrounded by fuel,” Kane said.

The wind played a factor in both the northern and southern California fires. Kane added the fierce fire was a product of fierce winds and high heat. During the fires, 30 mph winds were recorded, which allowed the Camp Fire blaze to consume almost a football field every 3 seconds.

In the coming days, rain is in the forecast for California, which is a godsend for the blazing fires but there are new fears for disaster from mudslides.

“We need the rain to help with these fires,” Kane said. “But we need to build better homes, and make them fire resistant so that we do not have another blaze that turns homes into rolling dominoes.”


Share This Post

More Stories

Nina G uses comedy to start conversations

During the virtual comedy event held by the SDRC, Nina Ghiselli tells her story and emphasizes the importance of student disability resources within schools.

It’s not just the Capitol Police

As the world watched from their televisions on January 6, we witnessed scenes unfold before our eyes that were, to many, unimaginable: supporters of President Trump swarmed the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building, then proceeded to break in and

The San Jose State University Football Team Comes to Humboldt

On a day’s notice from administration, the SJSU football team spends a week and a half in Humboldt practicing because their county did not allow it. Students react to their presence on campus in the midst of a pandemic. Directed

Homelessness in Humboldt, CA

This is the first trailer of a homeless documentary created by HSU students. We have spent months filming and will continue to film throughout the next year. Follow the heartbreaking stories of the homeless community around Humboldt county and the

Thrifty Arcata

Taking a tour of the local thrift shops in Arcata during the COVID-19 pandemic. Directed and produced by Skylar Gaven.

House Plants Generate Peace and Meaning During the Pandemic

Three different people with the same love for plants! House plants have become quite popular these days especially since we’re all basically stuck inside during the pandemic. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but these beautiful green oxygen-makers provide more

Prop 22 represents political favoritism of money over workers’ rights

California’s passing of proposition 22 on Nov. 5 represents a frustrating history of workers’ rights being trampled by the overwhelming influence of greed in politics.  This proposition forces app-based workers to be classified as independent contractors, rather than employees. This

Remembering Evelyn Andrews 10 months after her passing

By Katelyn Dendas It has been 10 months since my friend, teammate and freshman year dorm mate, Evelyn Andrews, passed away. I don’t remember what the grief counselor said or what transpired after that Monday, but I do remember arriving

Protestors seek to defund HSUPD

Two local, activist organizations work together to stage a sit-in against Humboldt State’s police department.

Getting stuck on the Trump train

Writer Anthony Aragon details his experience of accidentally joining a pro-Trump car rally.

Justin Turner exposes the World Series to COVID-19

Justin Turner didn’t need to be the story in the wake of the Dodgers’ first World Series victory in 32 years. Instead here we are, wondering what sort of, if any, punishment Major League Baseball will decide to hand down

Four more years of fear

News Editor Carlos Holguin explains why he is worried about the next four years.

Dismal democracy

The Lumberjack editorial staff comments on America’s flawed electoral system As the world watches the United States 2020 election results, waiting for our pseudodemocratic process to churn out a new president, historically unprecedented voting methods misrepresents the reported Election Day

The Mario triple pack invokes a nostalgia attack

When I was a child, the first video game system I owned was a Nintendo 64. Among the games I played was Super Mario 64. I played it all the time and when I wasn’t playing it, I was lying

Women’s lacrosse drops their competitive season

Greta Roberts, president and player of Humboldt State University’s women’s lacrosse team, made the decision with her coach and teammates to cancel the upcoming spring season. The team decided that not being able to recruit in the fall would be

Dobby’s proposition opinions

Haven’t voted yet? Well, you’re running out of time. Here’s a quick rundown of California’s propositions on the ballot this year

Corporations buy out propositions

In a series of general and misleading advertisements, corporate backers of Propositions 22 and 23 show their grubby hands

CDOR continues virtually

The Campus and Community Dialogue On Race returns covering global justice for Black Lives.

Indigenous Food Sovereignty

Local food management practices of the Tolowa Dee-ni, Yurok and other indigenous peoples.

Humboldt State Admin attempts to discredit the Lumberjack

***A Lumberjack editorial represents both the majority opinion of the student newspaper’s editorial board, nine editors, as well as the overwhelming majority of Humboldt State University’s student body. Collectively, an editorial echos, embodies and advocates for community beliefs.*** Insensitive communications

Music of the Moment 6

21 Savage and Metro Boomin drop a classic with “Savage Mode II”

Spartans arrive at HSU despite campus concerns

***Editor’s note: SJSU football program was tested in congruence with Mountain West conference guidelines*** The Spartans have arrived and this time they’re not carrying spears or shields. Instead the San Jose State football team stepped onto the Humboldt State campus

Music of the Moment 5

After shooting Megan Thee Stallion, Tory Lanez cancels himself

Welcome to the Twilight Zone

Comparisons between episodes of the classic TV show The Twilight Zone and our own dismal reality

Music of the Moment 4

YoungBoy Never Broke Again dodges the sophomore slump with his new album “Top.”

Self-Care Cuts

Changing your hair to change your life

HSU Seaweed Farm sets sail

The first commercially-approved seaweed farm in California will be on the map.

Music of the Moment 3

For better or worse, Big Sean is likely gone for good.

More Layers, More Protection?

Humboldt State demands double masking on campus, does more layers equal more protection?

The Ethnic Studies Bill is a Blessing

Ethnic Studies will thankfully become mandatory for all California State University students – as it should be.

The Complex Interface of Humans and Wildfires

How fire suppression is a mixed bag in Humboldt County Every fire season, blankets of smoke roll over Humboldt County. Here on the coast, that’s as close to wildfires as some of us get. But our practice of fire suppression

Defund HSU’s Police Department

Incidents of racism from the former UPD Chief, past examples of excessive force from current officers and a shrinking university budget.

How Not To Be Bitten By A Kitten

Please prepare to be prey Congratulations, a baby feline has recently come into your life. If they’re anywhere from 2-18 months, they bite. They see you as prey. Because you are prey. You always have been. You always will be.

Graduating Into Uncharted Waters

HSU graduates attempt to navigate a world turned upside-down by COVID-19 In May, Humboldt State University graduated hundreds of students, as it does every year. Unlike past years, graduates didn’t get to shake hands with their respective dean and receive

HSU Cultural Center Budget Slashed

Associated Students leaves student body devastated after significant reductions in cultural center’s budget.

All aboard the plague ship

Unprecedented times are met with normalized behavior, HSU puts students and community members at higher risk after reopening campus and student housing.

Music of the Moment

The hip-hop community rallies behind the Black Lives Matter Movement

Inside the Immune System

How the body uses multiple levels of defense against foreign intruders

Catcalling Can’t Continue

Verbal harassment toward women is about control and the assertion of gender discrimination

Major League Marijuana

Why I don’t think marijuana is everything it’s cracked up to be in baseball

Pigs Compost on Campus

CCAT tries to reduce HSU’s food waste footprint through new pig program