PALOS VERDES, CA – Smoke from a series of forest fires in central California blanketed Southland California Thursday afternoon, causing fire departments to beg people to stop calling 9-1-1 to report the smoke. The smoke hit the LA County coast just after noon Thursday.
Local residents should call 9-1-1 if they can identify the location of the fire but are not reporting general smoke, Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey said.
That’s because the smoke from forest fires comes hundreds of miles north of Southland.
“The bulk of the fires they attribute it to are the Windy Fire as well as the KNP Complex Fire,” said Humphrey. “These fires are both located in the central part of the state and are believed to cause the majority of the smoke.”
Smoke rises above trees as the Windy Fire burns in Sequoia National Forest, California on Sunday, September 19, 2021. (AP Photo / Noah Berger)
At 3 p.m. on Thursday, the counties of Los Angeles and Orange shone in an orange glow as the smoke from wildfires at high altitudes darkened the sun. At higher altitudes, the smoke has fewer health effects.
However, the spate of 9-1-1 calls is having an impact on emergency response centers across Southland. The calls reporting smoke cause delays in penetrating the emergency response centers.
“Don’t call 9-1-1 to ask questions,” Humphrey said. “We’re getting beaten up today.”
For example, Humphrey said, a person called 9-1-1 from LAX to report a bushfire 40 miles away in the San Gabriel Mountains, Humphrey said. However, the smoke actually came from central California. There are currently no known active fires in the San Gabriel Mountains.
The National Weather Service is monitoring the situation to determine when a shift in the pressure systems can help clean the air.
The South Coast Air Quality Control Management District meanwhile warned residents with heart and respiratory diseases to take precautions.
“Forest fires in central California produce heavy smoke moving south toward the South Coast Air Basin. While the heaviest upper-atmosphere smoke will be in the region, it will affect surface air quality in the San Bernardino, San Gabriel, and San Jacinto Mountains, “warned the SCAQMD.” To keep indoor air clean during periods of poor air quality , close all windows and doors and run your air conditioning and / or an air purifier. If possible, avoid using whole house fans or sump coolers to bring in outside air. “