Dust and smoke issues in the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District

Archive for the ‘Wildland Fires’ Category

Soda Fire in Sequoia NF (in January!)

Posted by admin on January 14, 2014

Some information on this new Soda Fire is available at  Smoke from it will doubtless impact the Owens Valley.  Below is a view of the smoke plume from a Bald Mountain webcam.

Soda Fire from Bald Mtn

The location is near Grey Meadow, just south of the 2011 Lion Fire at coordinates 36.201, -118.513.Capture

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Smoke levels from Rim Fire

Posted by admin on August 30, 2013

The Rim Fire is 84% contained and is winding down in smoke production.  See the Rim Fire Official Information at: This blog post originated on Friday, 8/30/2013, but will continue to be updated with data and analysis.  Bear Valley and Markleeville, after weeks of having some hourly PM2.5 values in the Unhealthy range or worse, have had a few days in the Good PM2.5 Air Quality range (see chart below).  The weather pattern providing this relief is expected to hold until Sunday, at which point, a low pressure will bring back the SW winds that prevailed earlier during the fire.  Smoke production on the fire has greatly diminished so the impacts won’t be as severe.  Note the cautionary statements regarding PM2.5 and PM10 in the AQI table at

GBUAPCD PM chart 9-17

Markleeville, Bear Valley and other Alpine County communities have been experiencing elevated levels of particulate matter from the Rim Fire since its start on Saturday August 17th, 2013.  Gratefully, the California Air Resources Board installed some emergency portable PM2.5 monitors at Markleeville and Bear Valley.  The monitors’ information can be obtained at the AirNow website as Air Quality Index (AQI) levels. (AirNow mobile device apps are available for up-to-date AQI values).  See the cautionary statements in the AQI table at

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New fires impacting Owens Valley

Posted by admin on August 25, 2013

Two new fires have become large enough to send noticeable amounts to the Owens Valley.  First, the Windy Peak Fire is at lat., long. 36.996, -118.609, about 21 miles west of Aberdeen.  This fire grew to 200 acres and is likely the source of the smoke coming over the crest in the photo below, taken yesterday  at noon with view angle SW to W from East Line Street by the Bishop sewage plant turnoff).  Second, the Fish Fire is at lat., long. 36.214, -118.436, about 24 miles west of Olancha.  Smoke from these two fires came over into the Owens Valley yesterday afternoon and evening, causing “moderate” ( levels of particulate matter (PM) pollution at the District’s monitor in Bishop and  “unhealthy for sensitive groups” levels at District monitors at Owens Lake.  So far today, the south winds have cleared out the smoke back to “good” PM levels in Bishop.  Yesterday’s smoke detection via NOAA’s satellite analysis is depicted below.

Areas of Alpine County to the north and east of the Rim Fire continue to be heavily impacted by its smoke.  The District’s health advisory for these areas is still in effect  It appeared yesterday evening that smoke from the Rim Fire was drifting into Mono and northern Inyo Counties as well.

Today, NOW since the start of this post, smoke from the Fish Fire has begun to impact the Owens Valley again as seen from a District webcam by Owens Lake in the third image below.  This is likely to cause “unhealthy for sensitive groups” to “unhealthy” PM levels.  For current Owens Lake webcam views, see


Smoke Detect Aug-24-2013

flatrock Aug-25-2013 1410


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Rim Fire smoke pattern will continue

Posted by admin on August 23, 2013

Midday southwest winds are predicted to continue for the next 4-5 days, directing smoke from the Rim Fire northeast toward Carson City, where PM2.5 readings reached 24o µg/m³ this afternoon.  This pollution level is considered “Unhealthy” as described in the table at  Carson City is about twice the distance from the fire as the Alpine County communities of Bear Valley, Kirkwood and Markleeville.  Based on photographs and accounts from these towns, the visibility has been 1/2 mile or less at times.  This equates to “Hazardous” conditions, prompting the District to continue the health advisory for Alpine County (note the visibility guidelines for recommendations).  Below is the smoke pattern as observed by satellite today and below that is the smoke pattern prediction for tomorrow.

Smoke Detect Aug-23-2013

Smoke Prediction Aug-24-2013



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Rim Fire in Tuolumne County

Posted by admin on August 23, 2013

As of 8:45this morning, the Rim Fire (for fire details, see was reported at 105,620 acres burned since its start on August 17, 2013.  It is only 2% contained.  Here is the fire perimeter report history:

Date & Time Acres
8/19/2013 10:43 PM 10,179
8/20/2013 11:26 PM 16,228
8/21/2013 11:52 PM 36,042
8/22/2013 1:45 AM 53,867
8/22/2013 8:00 PM 63,366
8/23/2013 8:45 AM 105,620


After receiving reports that the smoke was heavy in Markleeville  yesterday, the District issued a health advisory for Alpine County:  Below is an image of the smoke as viewed from Yosemite’s Crane Flat webcam.

Rim Fire 8-21-2013


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Aspen Fire smoke forecast for Friday

Posted by admin on August 1, 2013

Based on smoke predictive modeling provided by the Air Resources Board, tomorrow morning may be as bad or worse than this morning for smoke impacts to Mammoth Lakes, Bishop and surrounding communities.

BlueSky 2013-08-01AM

Thursday, 2013-08-01AM

BlueSky 2013-08-02AM

Friday, 2013-08-02AM

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Aspen Fire monitoring

Posted by admin on August 1, 2013

This morning marked the highest particulate concentration so far in Bishop from the Aspen Fire with the Paiute Tribe’s PM10 monitor recording 178 µg/m³ at 7:00 AM.  The District’s PM10 monitor in Mammoth Lakes recorded over 400 µg/m³ at 2:00AM but, fortunately, has now dropped back to 100 µg/m³.  These levels have prompted a stage 1 health advisory for Mammoth Lakes and northern Inyo County.  Due to elevated particulate pollution levels, children, the elderly, people with heart or lung problems, or people with current illnesses such as the flu, are advised to stay indoors and avoid strenuous outdoor activities in the impacted areas.  If you have any questions please call the Great Basin Air Pollution Control District office in Bishop at 760-872-8211.

The Office of Emergency Response, California Air Resources Board, Monitoring & Laboratory Division deployed two PM2.5 portable monitors from their Sacramento office last night.  Today, they are setting them up in the Crowley Lake and Round Valley areas.  This will give the District and the public more reference points for the level of pollution we’re experiencing and help make decisions on health-related recommendations.

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Smoke from Aspen Fire impacting health

Posted by admin on July 30, 2013

This morning, Great Basin District staff met with Richard Johnson, M.D., MPH, the Inyo and Mono Counties Public Health Officer to discuss the health impacts and implications from the continued Aspen Fire smoke.  He reported that there had been an increase in hospital and clinic visits in Mono County, especially in Mammoth Lakes . Based on the particulate matter levels from our monitors, Dr. Johnson also offered some Wildfire Smoke Response Guidelines in a statement issued yesterday, “Great Basin Air Advisory” at  The District is working to revise our public advisory notifications and website to better address smoke impacts (stay tuned).

The smoke will continue for several more days.  The fire is only 25% contained and grew to over 14,000 acres (3,000 more acres than reported yesterday).  Winds will remain predominantly from the southwest, directing the smoke towards Mammoth Lakes.  Yesterday, satellite analysis showed most of the smoke drifting northeast across Mono County.  Yet, this does not account for the increase in particulate concentrations in Bishop this morning, which reached the “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” level as shown in the table in the previous blog post.

This afternoon, the satellite smoke analysis below showed a marked decrease in the impact to the east side of the Sierra.  This does correlate to what we are seeing locally.  This can only be expected to be temporary relief, however.

Aspen Smoke 2013-07-30

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Smoke levels from Aspen Fire

Posted by admin on July 26, 2013

Mammoth Lakes and other communities have been experiencing elevated levels of particulate matter from the Aspen Fire.  Historically, the District has only issued health advisories when hourly particulate pollution levels exceed 400 microgram per cubic meter (µg/m3).

For wildfire smoke, the public can compare the particulate matter levels in various communities found on the Air Quality page at to the statements in the Air Quality Index (AQI) table below (click on the table for a full-size, more readable version, then the back arrow on your browser to return to this page).  Mammoth Lakes has had hourly values in the Unhealthy range and 24-hour averages in the Moderate and Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups ranges.  Bishop has experienced hourly and average values in the Moderate range.  Updates on the Aspen Fire can be found at  More information on AQI and smart phone apps for AQI can be obtained at

AQI Table


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Aspen Fire in Fresno County

Posted by admin on July 24, 2013

The smoke in Mammoth Lakes and Owens Valley this morning is from the Aspen Fire about 30 miles due west of Aspendell (37.279,-119.318) that started by lightning on Monday evening, July 22, 2013.  As of this press release last night, Aspen Fire_July 2013, it was only 300 acres.  Now it has grown to over 2,000 acres and is 0% contained (See Inciweb report:  There is an expectation that the blaze will grow to 6,000 acres over the next few days, so smoke production will be pretty steady.

Predominant WSW winds will continue throughout today to bring the smoke over to the Mammoth Lakes and Owens Valley area, where it will tend to drift south.  Overnight and early tomorrow morning, the smoke at the burn location should settle down into the drainages on the west side of the Sierra crest.  Here, on the east side, we can expect the smoke that makes it over the crest to linger for the next couple of days because a weak high pressure will result in poor dispersion conditions and today’s pattern is predicted to repeat tomorrow.

Aspen Fire location:

Aspen Fire Location

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