Santa Clara County warns residents to prepare for poor air quality from wildfire smoke | News | Palo Alto Online |


Santa Clara County warns residents to prepare for poor air quality from wildfire smoke

South Bay expected to see heavy smoke this weekend

As PG&E prepares for another Public Safety Power Shutoff throughout the state, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department is urging county residents to prepare for possible poor air quality this weekend.

Some PG&E customers in the Palo Alto foothills are within the impact zone for the power shutoff, according to a city announcement issued Friday.

"The air quality is great right now," Sara Cody, director of the county's Public Health Department, said during a news conference Friday. "The main message is we want people to plan ahead. We don't want to wait until we're all uncomfortable."

As the Kincade Fire grew to 21,900 acres in Sonoma County, Cody warned of a possible wind change on Saturday that could bring heavy smoke and poorer air quality to the South Bay this weekend. Information on how to protect indoor air quality from smoke is available on the Environmental Protection Agency website.

She encouraged residents to "think about friends and family that are vulnerable," who, for example, may lose power to ventilators and respirators following a power shutoff at their home.

Cody urged those with such devices to prepare backup power for their devices, should a shutoff hit their area.

As of Friday morning, containment of the Kincade Fire was at 5%, according to Cal Fire.

"Some people who are really vulnerable may want to move," Cody added. "It may not be great for them to stay in a home that's smoky with no power."

Smoke from the wildfire led the Bay Area Air Quality Management District to extend a Spare the Air alert through Saturday for the entire region.

PG&E anticipates the shutoffs could last from Saturday night through Monday morning.

A list of affected areas and counties will be updated throughout the weekend on PG&E's website.


Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Mountain View Voice staff contributed to this report.

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4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 27, 2019 at 6:20 pm

Very smoky sky this evening just before sunset.

2 people like this
Posted by Theater
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 27, 2019 at 6:45 pm

Very smoky this afternoon in Mountain View.

9 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 27, 2019 at 7:11 pm

This smoke is horrible, I can barely breathe. PG&E is going to cause more problems than they cure if they cut off people's power in this.

4 people like this
Posted by Riley C.
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 27, 2019 at 8:37 pm

The smoke is awful right now - does not seem breathable. I really feel for people with asthma and other breathing or heart conditions. I hope the power stays on so people can filter their air if they have air filters. I wonder if the city can help in some way for people with breathing problems - maybe set up centers with filtered air for people to take a break in if their power gets shut off and their air is too smoky for them to safely breath.

2 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 28, 2019 at 6:32 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

I went up to the city on Sunday around 10 AM. On 101 there was a brown blanket of smoke sitting over SFO. It was like a solid body - a blanket. How can a plane fly in and take all of that into it's engines? You could see smoke funneling in from the north so transitioned over 380 to hit 19th ST. The wind was picking up and there were street crews working the trees. Lots of wind in the city and hazy sky. Trees blowing every which way.
Coming home the blanket over SFO was now dispersed and moving down the bay. Then got to PA - South Bay and that is where it was heading. The news said it was trapped against the hills. On news last night they said that PA was the "red light" area for worst smoke. So sorry for all of the animals and birds outside who have no place to get away from it all. And today will be a big pick-up day of all of the tree droppings from the winds.
Meanwhile son who is in the Oakland Hills has been out of power now for more than a day. They have spent their weekend at Home Depot getting prepared for what ever. Fires over the hills on backside of Hwy 24.

2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 28, 2019 at 7:36 am

Reading the above comments, perhaps time to re-watch "The Day After" (1983).
Epilog: "It is hoped that the images of this film will inspire the nations of this earth,
their peoples and leaders, to avert the fateful day."

Yet in the words of TS Eliot,
"This is the way the world ends, Not with a bang but with a whimper."

Like this comment
Posted by I am supportive of power shutoffs
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 28, 2019 at 12:08 pm

I am supportive of power shutoffs is a registered user.

Above poster says "PG&E is going to cause more problems than they cure if they cut off people's power in this."

I don't understand this viewpoint. PG&E is turning off power on lines that might start a fire on very fire-prone (windy, dry) days. They show photos of the damage that was done to their power lines when they inspect after the winds calm down. We have seen many times that their power lines can start fires, and the vast and terrible amounts of damage done by those fires.

But you want them to leave the power on anyway?

I would like it if they could fix all the lines. They are trying but it takes a while. Until then, how can we advocate for "burn, baby, burn"?

1 person likes this
Posted by Mom
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 28, 2019 at 12:46 pm

I hope P.E. teachers keep them indoors instead of running laps outside but last time we were in red due to fires, they ignored the air quality.

Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 25, 2019 at 3:32 pm

With a little rain apparently on the way, no doubt public attention will be diverted to other things. But, in case folks missed it, some information is coming to light about exactly what kind of "equipment failure" might have been causing wildfires. I admit that I was a little puzzled by the information so far. Anybody heard of the "Tripsaver", an automatic recloser designed to allow staff reductions by eliminating the need for manual intervention in some cases. Only problem is, if there is an actual downed line, it can start a fire. Oops. This article is about someone who said he was fired for opposing the installation of these devices:

Web Link

"Hearn, 50, claimed in court papers that he and several other employees were particularly concerned about a kind of recloser called TripSaver that PG&E was installing in 2017 — months before its power lines started a series of fires around Wine Country.

Hearn alleged that he told management at the San Francisco utility that the company was unsafely installing the TripSavers in areas with high fire risk such as Napa County, where he worked. But he said the company did not take the reports seriously.

After speaking up about wildfire safety problems on many occasions, Hearn was placed on leave and eventually fired, he said."

It seems that the Tripsavers actually didn't malfunction. PG&E was installing them as part of a configuration that increased risk in order to save labor costs. This activity was in the Napa/Sonoma etc North Bay areas and the Oct 2017 fires. (Nothing in the article regarding the Camp Fire at Paradise.)

From the sound of the article, the lawsuit facts seem pretty uncontestable, but, his lawsuit isn't going anywhere because of the bankruptcy.

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