Mountain View residents are encouraged to stay indoors and avoid prolonged exposure to smoke pouring onto the Peninsula from nine major fires in Northern California, which have scorched upwards of 100,000 acres and left 26 people confirmed dead as of Thursday.
Air pollution generated from the extensive wildfires broke records in multiple areas of Wine Country this week, reaching hazardous concentrations of fine particulate matter several times federal safety standards. Since Wednesday, northerly winds have pushed the heavy clouds of smoke south into mid- and southern-Peninsula cities, pushing air quality in the region to "unhealthy" levels, according to Air Quality Index (AQI) readings from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.
Data collected from an air monitoring site in Redwood City shows air quality on the Peninsula was at its worst around noon and early afternoon on Wednesday and Thursday.
A smoke advisory from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District asks that all Bay Area residents limit outdoor activities, close windows and doors and set air conditioning units to re-circulate air. The unhealthy air quality poses a greater risk to young children, the elderly and people with respiratory and heart conditions.
Officials at the Mountain View-Los Altos High School District announced that all outdoor physical activities, including physical education classes and after-school sports, have been canceled today, and that some indoor gym activities may also be called off out of an abundance of caution. Friday events including the homecoming parade and football game at Los Altos High School have also been canceled.
"We know how disappointing this is to our students and we did not make the decision lightly," according to a statement by the school district. "Air quality levels have continued to deteriorate and there is no indication from state authorities that air quality will improve by tomorrow. The smoky conditions are forecast to worsen today, Friday and Saturday as the winds blow the smoke south."
Students in the Mountain View Whisman School District are also being kept inside as much as possible, using libraries and multipurpose rooms for kids to congregate during lunch and recess, according to district spokeswoman Shelly Hausman. Any outdoor sports events will be rescheduled or canceled as long as air quality remains in the unhealthy range, she said.
Seven Mountain View fire personnel were sent out early Monday to fight the North Bay fires, including a deputy fire chief and a battalion chief who have led a county-wide team to protect buildings in the city of Santa Rosa from the so-called Tubbs Fire. Two police officers from Mountain View have also traveled out to the North Bay to assist in the relief effort.
On Wednesday night, the local 129th Rescue Wing helped transport approximately 100 infantry soldiers from Los Alamitos to Moffett Field. "The soldiers of the 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team will provide support at shelters in Napa and Solano counties," as well as perform other tasks, according to Capt. Roderick Bersamina of the Rescue Wing.
Many of the fires in Sonoma and Napa counties continued to burn out of control on Thursday morning. Updates from Cal Fire Thursday morning show that the Tubbs Fire is 10 percent contained, but the other blazes are at 3 percent containment or less. The largest of the fires, the Atlas Fire, has burned through 43,762 acres and remains only 3 percent contained.