California [US], August 8 (ANI): Residents in part of Northern California were warned to stay indoors on Saturday (local time) due to smoke from massive wildfires as authorities are still searching for eight unaccounted people.
The massive wildfires led to widespread hazardous air quality resulting in an advisory on air quality on Thursday by the Placer County Public Health and the Placer County Air Pollution Control District, reported CNN.
"Sad to say, the prediction is correct," Ann Hobbs, associate planner at the Placer County Air Pollution Control District, told CNN. Hobbs said officials had anticipated a change in the wind would bring poor air quality and smoke to residents living in the area.
"Avoid all unnecessary outdoor activity," Hobbs said, adding that the air quality is the worst the area has seen all year.
The thick smoke extended far beyond California, causing alarm in Utah. "Our dispatch centers are getting overwhelmed with calls about smoke; unfortunately, we are unable to change the jet stream," the Centerville Police Department said Friday in a tweet.
On Friday afternoon, air quality measurements from the EPA's AirNow website showed air quality readings for PM2.5, the fine particles produced by wildfire smoke, up to 921 in Chester, California, far beyond the 300 considered "hazardous." The air quality index in the town of Paradise was also hazardous at 602, reported CNN.
The Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District and the public health departments of Nevada, Plumas and Sierra counties issued a joint air quality health advisory due to the "prolonged and widespread smoke from numerous wildfires."
Concerns about air quality are one part of the impact of large wildfires in California and other Western states.
Two Northern California wildfires have destroyed dozens of homes, left people unaccounted for or injured and prompted additional evacuations Thursday, all in less than 48 hours.
The Dixie Fire, now the largest active fire in the nation, has destroyed more than 100 homes and is expected to do more damage, according to Plumas County Sheriff Todd Johns.
Eight people were unaccounted for as of Friday, the Plumas County Sheriff's Office said. Five of them are from Greenville, two are from Cresent Mills and one is from Chester. Search efforts are continuing through the weekend.
The Dixie Fire has consumed 434,813 acres -- an area 3.5 times the size of Lake Tahoe, making it the third-largest fire in California history.
The historic town of Greenville in Plumas County was nearly levelled to the ground. In the community's commercial center at Main Street and State Route 89, nearly every business appeared to have collapsed or been gutted, with flames still flickering in the debris up and down the sides of both streets, according to a video recorded Wednesday by storm chaser Brandon Clement.
Approximately 80 miles south, the River Fire raging in Nevada and Placer counties has obliterated at least 76 structures and at least 20 structures have been damaged, according to Cal Fire's Thursday night update. Damage assessment has not yet been finalized because inspectors are unable to access all affected areas as the fire grows.
In Placer County, nearly 2,400 people are under evacuation, Placer County Sheriff's Office spokesman Nelson Resendes said Wednesday. In Nevada County, at least 4,200 residents are under an evacuation order or warning, said county Sheriff Shannan Moon.
Overall, 11 new large fires have been reported in the US, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. That brings the nationwide total to 107 large fires, reported CNN. (ANI)