California wildfires mucking up state’s air quality
California’s raging wildfires, which have burned some 660 square miles in the last few weeks, are also significantly worsening air quality, causing high levels of soot, and aggravating asthma patients. “Our waiting rooms are full of people with sore throats, itchy eyes, and sniffles,” said a respiratory therapist with Fresno’s Sequoia Community Health Center. Already poor air quality in the San Joaquin Valley, an important agricultural area, has been even worse than usual this summer thanks to the smoky fires. Officials advised families who weren’t forced to evacuate to stay indoors. Some 19,000 fire fighters are working to contain still-raging blazes across the state. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday ordered the National Guard to fire duty to relieve some of the exhausted crews — the first such call to duty to combat fires since 1977. The governor also discouraged Californians from indulging in pyrotechnic displays of patriotism this weekend, declaring that “it’s just too dry and too dangerous to do those things.” Instead, he advised everyone to get their firepower fix by staying home and renting old action films.