Daily Press Staff Writer

According to CalFire, firefighters are beginning to contain many of the fires burning in Southern California but air quality remains questionable near the fires as changing weather conditions push clouds of smoke in different directions.

In the Statewide Fire Summary for Dec. 8, Calfire said the Skirball Fire burning North of Brentwood has consumed 475 acres and is now 30% contained. Evacuations and road closures remained in effect for some nearby residents.

“As nearly 8,700 firefighters made progress the large fires in southern California, two new fires erupted and spread rapidly, pushed by fierce Santa Ana winds.

In total, the six fires have burned more than 141,000 acres and driven more than 212,000 residents to from their homes.,” said the report.

Weather conditions were not ideal for firefighting, but were not as bad as feared. Winds were between 15 – 20 mph with gusts up to 40 mph in some areas. Rising temperatures pushed the thermometer into the mid 80’s in some areas and strong offshore winds were expected into the weekend.

Those winds are also responsible for a roulette wheel of air quality as smoke can be pushed in any direction. For most of Friday, Santa Monica’s air quality was considered “moderate” one step below the best ranking of “good.

” However, as winds shifted later in the day bringing slightly more smoke towards the city.

The Southern Coast Air Quality Management District, the government agency charged with monitoring air quality, said winds coming from the northeast could bring smoke into the Los Angeles area over the weekend.

The AQMD said the Creek Fire burning near Sylmar and the Skirball fire near the Getty Center could both send smoke into western Los Angeles.

“Strong northeast winds are expected to continue through at least Saturday afternoon bringing smoke into the western portion of Los Angeles County,” said their smoke advisory.

“Air quality may reach Unhealthy levels or higher in areas directly impacted by smoke.”

The agency said Santa Monica and its surrounding area could be directly impacted by unhealthy smoke depending on wind conditions.

“In any area impacted by smoke: Everyone should avoid any vigorous outdoor or indoor exertion; people with respiratory or heart disease, pregnant women, older adults, and children should remain indoors. Keep windows and doors closed or seek alternate shelter.

Run your air conditioner if you have one and keep the fresh air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent bringing additional smoke inside. Avoid using a swamp cooler or whole-house fan to prevent bringing additional smoke inside,” said the AQMD. “To avoid worsening the health effects of smoke, don’t use indoor or outdoor wood-burning appliances, including fireplaces.”

The fires prompted Governor Brown to issue emergency proclamations for San Diego, Los Angeles, Ventura and San Diego Counties. President Trump also declared a state of emergency for the Southern California fires.

Fire status as of Dec. 8
Lilac Fire, San Diego County
4,100 acres, 0% contained
Evacuations and road closures in effect

Thomas Fire, Ventura County
Santa Paula
132,000 acres, 10% contained
Evacuations and road closures in effect
15,000 homes threatened, over 88,000 residents evacuated

Creek Fire, Los Angeles County
Kagel Canyon
15,323 acres, 40% contained
Evacuations and road closures in effect

Rye Fire, Los Angeles County
Santa Clarita
6,049 acres, 35% contained
Evacuations and road closures in effect
5,460 homes threatened, 2,000 residents evacuated

Liberty Fire, Riverside County
300 acres, 59% contained

Skirball Fire, Los Angeles County
North of Brentwood
475 acres, 30% contained
Evacuations and road closures in effect