Press & News

Smoke in the Valley increases doctor visits & 911 calls

By Shelby Bracho | Originally Posted on Fox 26 News

Smoke from surrounding wildfires has created a high air quality index (AQI) for the Central Valley.

As a result, the Fresno Fire Department says it received at least nine calls for smoke investigation, which certainly could increase response times for the department during an already busy year.

The department says while they certainly don’t want to discourage anyone from calling, there are some things you can do before making that call, which could really make a difference for first responders.

“Smoke investigation calls do increase whenever we have large wildfires in the area,” said Jonathan Lopez, the Public Information Officer for the department, “It’s causing an increase in smoke investigation calls because it’s very hard for people to really determine where the fire is coming from.”

Lopez says much of the smoke currently sitting in the Central Valley is coming from the KNP fire in the Three Rivers area.

“This year alone has been especially bad because we already have over 5,400 fire calls and that’s already a 29% increase over last year and the year’s not even over yet so we can only expect those numbers to go up,” said Lopez, “Certainly we don’t want to discourage anyone from calling 911 if they smelled smoke, we would like them to air on the side of caution, but they could really help us if they can try and pinpoint where that smoke is coming from, for example, if they step outside and see a large column of smoke then that’s exactly what we’re looking for.”

Not only have fire officials gotten more calls for service, so have local doctors.

Dr. Praveen Buddiga, a local allergy and immunology specialist, says he saw an increase in patient visits on Friday due to the smoke sitting in the Valley.

“Today I’ve been seeing a lot of patients with cough, congestion, difficulty breathing and this is directly related to the air,” said Dr. Buddiga.

Dr. Buddiga said many of his patients have difficulty breathing, which is not surprising considering the smoke is even visible in satellite images taken from space.

And a wildfire camera on Deadwood Mountain captured smoke moving in and out of the Oakhurst area at sunrise.

Dr. Buddiga recommends all outdoor youth sports be postponed until the AQI is lower. He also had some advice for people in the Central Valley who are dealing with the smoke.

“When they’re driving they should roll the windows up, if the air quality actually gets worse I would recommend they just stay home for at least a day,” said Dr. Buddiga, “Using a sinus rinse to get all that bad soot and bad air quality remnants out of the nasal passages so they don’t sit there and brew inflammation.”

Dr. Buddiga also said it’s always a good idea to get an air purifier for your home and he recommends taking a shower before bed. He says a lot of the particles in the air can get stuck on your skin, hair, and clothes and you could end up breathing some of that in while you sleep.

If you’re interested in taking a closer look at the air quality in your area, you can visit this website, enter your zip code and get a simple breakdown.

Tomorrow’s air quality index in Fresno is projected to be sitting at 153, which means we can expect to be sitting in that “unhealthy” red section.

 

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