Smoke due to the Loma fire in the Santa Cruz Mountains is contributing to poor air quality in Santa Clara County, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department said in a statement Wednesday, Sept. 28.
The fire began on Monday, Sept. 26, and was reported at 3:06 p.m. off Loma Prieta and Loma Chiquita roads, 10 miles northwest of Morgan Hill in steep, inaccessible terrain covered by dry, drought-stressed vegetation.
It is 10 percent contained, as of Wednesday morning, according to Cal Fire. So far, it has burned 2,250 acres and threatens 300 structures. One home and six outbuildings have been destroyed and another home is damaged, according to Cal Fire. Mandatory evacuations in the area are in place.
Firefighters from throughout the state, including 1,092 fire personnel, 111 fire engines and 23 helicopters are aggressively battling the blaze. Its cause is under investigation, according to Cal Fire. Engine 65 from the Palo Alto Fire Department was deployed early Tuesday morning, Sept. 27, to help with the fire, according to the fire department.
While most of the smoke-affected areas are currently in the mountain and south-county areas, health officials expect the smoke may increase throughout Santa Clara County in the next days and week. The air quality throughout the county is already poor largely due to the hot weather without the effects of the fire, health officials said.
But officials, who are monitoring for increased symptoms and complaints of respiratory ailments due to smoke, urged caution for all county residents. When smoke can be seen or smelled, people with respiratory problems, young children and older adults should limit their time outside and stay indoors as much as possible. Windows and doors should be kept closed to stop pollutants from smoke from coming inside. People in good health should limit outdoor activities when smoke is visible, health officials said.
"Pay attention to air quality and take precautions this week and weekend, especially when it comes to doing any physical activity," said Dr. Sara Cody, health officer and director of the Santa Clara County Public Health Department. "If you can see or smell smoke in the air, you may want to hold off on biking, running or other strenuous physical activities until the air clears."
Smoke-inhalation symptoms include lung and eye irritations, coughing, scratchy throat and irritated sinuses. Persons who develop repeated coughing, chest tightness or pain, wheezing, difficulty breathing or nausea should immediately call their medical provider, officials said.
More information and updates on local air quality are available at baaqmd.gov.