LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The sun set Thursday night on the Los Angeles basin blanketed in smoke and haze.
The day was mostly dark, bleak, and cast in an eerie orange glow. The smoky skies kept Southern Californians inside and on the hunt for purifiers — a hot ticket item on one of the smoggiest days of the year.
“I went to three Targets, and one Costco and one Best Buy,” said one Pasadena resident. She lives near where the Bobcat fire continues in the Angeles National Forest and said the smoke was so bad inside her home, it actually got her out of bed at 2 a.m.
“I woke up because the smell was so bad and my kids were complaining about it,” she said. “And this morning my eyes, even though I was staying inside, were getting really irritated, and my throat getting hurt.”
Southern California is dealing with a one-two punch: smoke from the Bobcat fire and the El Dorado fire in Yucaipa, plus the effects from the Northern California fires.
The result of this double whammy is apocalyptic-looking skies, full of smoke that was so thick it made it difficult for the sun to shine through.
Not to mention the poor air quality, especially in the San Gabriel Valley.
In fact, the unhealthy air and smoke was bad enough that it prompted L.A. County to close six of its COVID-19 testing sites on Thursday and Friday.
And while smoke and ash are what’s garnering attention, health experts are more concerned about what you can’t see: tiny particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs and, in some cases, can pass directly into the bloodstream.
“Some unhealthy readings —maybe one or two in the very unhealthy — but most are unhealthy, which is not a good thing,” Fine said. “It’s way above air quality standards.”
The California Air Resources Board said the particulate matter has been known to affect the lungs and heart, and the masks that people are wearing due to the pandemic are likely not helping.
“If you’re just wearing a cloth mask, they’re not very effective at all for these very small particles that can penetrate deep into the lungs,” Fine said.
In spite of the smoky skies, the majority of Southern California air quality was in the moderate range today.
SACQMD said it could be a while before the skies clear, and it will require getting a handle on some of the fires burning across the state.