A brief break in the smoke, a reduction in air quality pollutants and a glimpse of blue sky all gave the Bay Area a much-needed reprieve from the devastation taking place up north earlier this week — but don’t pack away those masks quite yet.
On Tuesday, San Francisco residents who optimistically slept with their windows open woke up to the rich smell of wildfire smoke once again. Many cyclists donned masks for the commute down Market Street, and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District issued a Spare the Air Alert and smoke advisory as pollutants were measured at red, “unhealthy” levels.
The North Bay fires still rage — though the fires are slowly being contained. There are still 53 people who remain missing, and approximately 200 search-and-rescue workers continue to hunt for them. Of the missing, Bay City News reports that 26 were from the city of Santa Rosa.
To stretch resources even thinner, two new fires broke out. The Bear Fire in Santa Cruz had burned more than 200 acres by Tuesday afternoon and was only five percent contained. Around 150 residents were evacuated. And a brush fire in Sausalito temporarily shut down southbound lanes of Highway 101.
This afternoon Cal Fire Battalion Chief Jonathan Cox says response to the fires has involved 351 agencies, pulling firefighters and volunteers from 14 states, and even one from Australia. Cox thanked “the outpouring of support the community has shown” for firefighters, and said while fire crews don’t currently need any supply donations, “any cards or words of appreciation are really what keeps firefighters going.”