County provides ash cleaning tips

Daily Press Editor

While fires continue to burn in other parts of California, locals are providing tips on cleaning up the ash that has blown into Santa Monica.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has pointed residents to existing cleanup guidelines established to help after a fire.

Those tips include food safety information and advice for removing ash from streets.
“Take precautions during clean-up following a fire,” say the guidelines.

“Ash, soot, dust, and other airborne particles may have been deposited inside and outside of homes and businesses. While ash from wildfires is relatively non-toxic and similar to ash that may be found in a home fireplace, it may be irritating to the skin, nose and throat.

Exposure to ash in air might trigger asthmatic attacks in people who already have asthma.”
When cleaning, effort should be taken to prevent ash from becoming airborne.
“Instead, gentle sweeping of indoor and outdoor surfaces, followed by wet mopping, is the best way to clean an area with ash. A solution of bleach and water may be used to disinfect an area, if desired,” said the report.
Household and shop vacuums should not be used unless they have a HEPA filter to remove small particles. Masks with a rating of N-95 can be worn to help filter out dangerous particles and cleaners should wear gloves, long sleeves and long pants.

Ash that touches the skin can be removed with basic soap and water but efforts should be made to avoid washing large quantities of ash into storm drains.
Dry ash should be contained in a bag before being thrown into the garbage.
If ash made its way into the kitchen, food that was in sealed containers will be safe.
While cleanup is the course of action in Santa Monica, almost 9,000 firefighters remain on the fire lines and progress is being made in containment.
Califire said that as of Dec. 13, the fires have burned nearly 260,000 acres and destroyed nearly 1,200 structures.
“Red Flag Warnings remain for most of Los Angeles and Ventura counties and have been extended into Wednesday,” said Calfire spokesperson Lynne Tolmachoff.

“Strong gusts of between 20 and 40 mph expected in the Los Angeles and Ventura county wind prone areas. Local gusts to between 15 and 25 mph expected below the hills of Montecito the next few nights.

Humidity remains in the single digits coupled with Santa Ana wind gusts and warm temperatures continue to elevate fire danger. Warm and dry conditions continue across the state, with no chance of precipitation in the current forecast.”

Fire updates as of Dec. 12

Thomas Fire, Ventura/Santa Barbara County
Santa Paula
• 234,200 acres, 20% contained
• Evacuations and road closures in effect
• 18,000 homes threatened, 95,000 residents evacuated
• CAL FIRE Incident Management Team 4 (Derum) assigned

Lilac Fire, San Diego County
• 4,100 acres, 92% contained
• Evacuations and road closures have been lifted
• CAL FIRE Incident Management Team 1 (Gouvea) assigned

Creek Fire, Los Angeles County
Kagel Canyon
• 15,619 acres, 98% contained
• CAL FIRE Incident Management Team 5 (Bravo)

Rye Fire, Los Angeles County
Santa Clarita
• 6,049 acres, 96% contained

Skirball Fire, Los Angeles County
North of Brentwood
• 422 acres, 85% contained

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