Large columns of smoke from the Erskine Fire Thursday evening could be seen from as far away as Bakersfield.

The heavy winds that fanned the flames of the Erskine Fire also pushed the smoke and soot all over Kern County.

The eastern region is seeing a lot of smoke and spreading small particles, which can create severe health problems for residents.

“That matter is teeny tiny. We don’t see it, but we smell it,” said Heather Heinks, outreach and communication manager at San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. “You can inhale it, and it can go into your bloodstream and have bad impacts.”

She noted that in the valley areas, “we’re not in havoc yet.”

But it’s worse in eastern Kern. 

Glen Stephens, an air pollution control officer for the Eastern Kern Air Pollution Control District, said there’s a lot of matter in the air, from Lake Isabella to Ridgecrest.

“We are seeing a lot of haze outside,” Stephens said, noting the air was much worse Thursday.

Stephens said the winds were much stronger the day the fire started, impacting Ridgecrest the most. But since then, the wind has slowed down and the air has slowly improved.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says smoke can irritate your eyes and respiratory system and worsen chronic heart and lung disease.

But there are ways to protect yourself from wildfire smoke.

SJVAPCD urges residents to limit outdoor activities and to follow doctor’s orders if you suffer from asthma or other lung diseases.

Stephens also recommends staying indoors and keeping the air as clean as possible by closing the fresh-air intake and filtering recycled air. The CDC says if you don’t have an AC unit, the building may get extremely hot, and you should seek alternative shelter.

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