Publication Date December 17, 2017

Santa Ana winds help clear the smoke from the Thomas fire, but health risks remain

United States
The sun rises as fire crews prepare for another day of fighting the Thomas fire in Montecito on Sunday. Photo: Marcus Yam, Los Angeles Times

Raging Santa Ana winds helped clear smoke from the massive Thomas fire out of Ventura County on Sunday, but health officials cautioned residents that “non-smoky” conditions don’t mean the air is safe to breathe.

The winds “will cause dust particulate to stir up, resulting in air quality that is at times unhealthy,” according to an advisory from the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District.

The cities of Ojai, Ventura, Oxnard, Santa Paula and Camarillo all recorded “unhealthy” air quality ratings as of early afternoon Sunday, according to the air pollution district’s website.

Health officials caution anyone in areas impacted with smoke and dust to avoid vigorous outdoor activities. People with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly, and children should remain indoors, officials said.

People living in those areas are encouraged to run air conditioners and close all windows and doors to prevent bringing additional smoke inside. Officials suggest seeking alternate shelter if this is not an option.

As of early Sunday afternoon, the air quality was rated “moderate” for the cities of Santa Barbara and Goleta, according to the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District.