Wine Country fires wreak havoc on bay air quality

Mackenzie Clarke, Managing Editor

Fires which ignited due to high winds and dry conditions throughout Wine Country Oct. 8 have spread to consume around 160,000 acres of homes, nature, and vineyards. As of Thurs Oct 12, 400 people in the region have been reported missing, and 31 are confirmed dead.

The Air District, an air quality assessment system under the jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection Agency, deemed Redwood City air unhealthy Oct. 12 due to smoke with a score of 165 (a score over 150 is considered unhealthy). Napa and surrounding areas were assigned air quality indexes of “hazardous”. The entire town of Calistoga was evacuated, and residents of various other communities whose homes were destroyed have been displaced to shelters. Many Sequoia and Redwood City alumni attending Sonoma State University were forced to return home.

The fires created the worst air quality ever recorded for smoke in the Bay Area. After winds shifted Oct. 10, a higher density of smoke blanketed Redwood City the next day, and as a result all Sequoia sports games and practices were cancelled, along with the IB Environmental Systems and Societies field trip. 80 flights were cancelled at SFO due to thick smoke in the skies. Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in Napa, Sonoma and Yuba counties, stating “we’ve had big fires in the past…this is one of the biggest.”