News and Events

August 7, 2017

Friday, August 4 through Monday, August 7, 2017

Plumas and Sierra Counties

Plumas County Public Health and the Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District are extending a joint air quality advisory to notify the public of potentially poor air quality conditions at least through Monday, August 7, caused by the Minerva Fire south of Quincy in Plumas County (

For the next several days, Plumas County’s Air Quality will continue to vary as Fire Crews work to contain the Minerva Fire.  It is important to remember that smoke can be damaging to your health.  Exposure to elevated PM2.5 (fine particulate matter in smoke) concentrations can result in eye and throat irritation, headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, congestion, coughing, impaired lung function and chest pain, especially among sensitive individuals such as the elderly, children, people with asthma, people with heart or lung conditions, pregnant women and anyone who is exercising or working hard outdoors.

If you smell or see smoke around you, the following actions are recommended:

  • Minimize outdoor activities even if you are healthy;
  • Stay indoors with doors and windows closed as much as possible; run the air conditioner on the “recirculate” setting if that is an option;
  • People with asthma should follow their asthma management plan;
  • People with heart disease, respiratory or chronic health issues should stay indoors;
  • Contact your doctor if you have symptoms of cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, or severe fatigue.


Here is a simplified way to estimate air quality risk categories with a visibility assessment:

Air Quality Visibility in Miles
Good 11 miles and up
Moderate 6 to 10
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 3 to 5
Unhealthy 1 ½ to 2 ¾
Very Unhealthy 1 to 1 ¼
Hazardous Less than 1 mile


When using the visibility index to determine smoke concentrations, it is important to:

  • Face away from the sun.
  • Determine the limit of your visibility range by looking for targets at known

distances (miles). The visible range is the point at which even high-contrast

objects (e.g., a dark forested mountain viewed against the sky at noon) totally disappear.

Smoke conditions can change quickly and vary greatly due to terrain, wind direction and weather.  Western parts of Plumas and Sierra Counties, and especially the Quincy area, are likely to see the most smoke.  It is important to monitor the smoke and make outdoor plans accordingly.

The use of filter masks is generally not recommended because the most effective masks can reduce air flow for people who are already having breathing difficulty.The following information was submitted by the U.S. Forest Service:

Air Quality Summary Report – Minerva Fire                                                  Friday, August 4, 2017

Prepared by, Ryan Bauer (

Fire, Weather, and Smoke Synopsis

Weather: Thunderstorm activity again Thursday increased fire activity on the Minerva fire late in the day. Westerly winds Friday are increasing smoke impacts in communities east of the fire, but should shift to more southwesterly Saturday. Thunderstorm chances return Saturday. Max temps remain fairly steady through the weekend.

Fire Activity: The Minerva fire grew 379 acres Thursday. Fire activity increased in the late afternoon and evening. Firing operations were completed along the southern and eastern edges of the fire to strengthen containment lines. Additional firing is planned Friday and Friday night, continuing for the next few days until the indirect containment lines are secured.

Smoke Summary: Smoke from the Minerva fire continues to effect primarily Quincy during the nighttime and morning hours. Westerly winds are pushing daytime smoke east toward the city of Portola today. Portola and Chester should see improving conditions tomorrow. Thunderstorm activity is likely through the weekend with unpredictable effects on smoke dispersion and transport.

Air Quality Outlook (wildfire smoke related – PM2.5 only)

Sites with air quality monitors (based on Air Quality Index for each 24-hour day)
Site Thursday Friday Saturday Comments
Quincy USG Unhealthy Unhealthy Conditions in “Moderate” range this morning. Will improve for a few hours in the afternoon. Worsening in the evening.
Portola Moderate USG Moderate Increased impacts likely today, then moderating tomorrow.
Chester Moderate Good Good Improving conditions
Please Note: Conditions can change quickly. These predictions are based on anticipated weather and fire activity. Forecast conditions represent impacts from smoke from the Minerva wildfire. Effects of other pollutants, such as ozone on air quality are generally not reflected.
USG = Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups


Information on air quality and smoke can be found at: (PM – particulate matter hourly information) (smoke information based on fire incidents) (PM and ozone combined) (air quality guide for particle pollution)