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Ash And Smoke From Mountain Fire Prompt Warnings From Health Officials

Firefighters on the Mountain fire.  Credit: Guy McCarthy
Firefighters on the Mountain fire. Credit: Guy McCarthy
Advisories were issued Thursday to Riverside County residents who live in, or are traveling through, areas impacted by smoke and ash from the Mountain fire.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST UPDATE ON THE MOUNTAIN FIRE.

"Because of changing fire conditions, residents of the Hemet-San Jacinto Valley, the Coachella Valley and the San Gorgonio Pass area should take precautions to avoid smoke and ash from the Mountain Fire," read a statement today from the County of Riverside Department of Public Health.

Health officials are worried that residents of the mountain communities, including Idyllwild, Pine Cove, Mountain Center, Pinyon Pines, the Hemet-San Jacinto Valley, the Coachella Valley and the San Gorgonio Pass area could be harmed by prolonged exposure to smoke and ash that  is coming from the blaze now estimated to have burned more than 22,000 acres.

“The dangers from a fire of this size not only come from the flames, but also the smoke and ash that the fire generates,” said Susan Harrington, director of the County of Riverside Department of Public Health.

Wildfire smoke, which is a mixture of small particles, gases and water vapor, is covering portions of the western county and could cause residents health problems ranging from burning eyes, runny nose, shortness of breath, scratchy throat, headaches, chest pains and a variety of health problems. The smoke can also worsen conditions related to asthma, chronic heart and lung disease, today's statement read.

For the third straight day, the South Coast Air Quality Management District issued a smoke advisory Thursday for the Coachella Valley due to the ash and smoke.

Residents should avoid vigorous outdoor activity, keep windows and doors closed and run an air conditioner, the agency advised.

Those with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children should remain indoors, according to the AQMD.

The advisory also covers parts of the Hemet/San Jacinto Valley and the Banning Pass.

The Mountain Fire, which started Monday in Mountain Center, has sent smoke and ash into the valley.

A map showing current air quality conditions is available online at www3.aqmd.gov. More health tips may be seen at www.aqmd.gov.

Air quality Thursday across Southwest Riverside County is shown as "moderate," according to the AQMD. --City News Service contributed to this story.

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