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Smoke from River Fire prompts health caution about air quality in the Valley

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District issued a health caution to Valley residents due to the smoke impacts from the River Fire.

The district is warning residents to stay indoors and reduce their exposure to particulate matter emissions from the wildfire, which can cause serious health conditions. Smoke from the River Fire in Mariposa County is causing impacts in the Valley portion of Kern, as well as the counties of Tulare, Kings, Fresno, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced and Madera, according to a news release from the district.

The caution is supposed to remain in place until the fire is extinguished.

Particulate matter can cause serious problems: It is known to trigger asthma attacks, aggravate chronic bronchitis, and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Those with respiratory conditions, including COVID-19, young children and the elderly are particularly susceptible to this kind of pollution. The district recommends that those with heart or lung disease follow their doctors’ advice. 

When there is poor air quality due to wildfire smoke, move to a filtered, air-conditioned environment with closed windows. Cloth and paper masks used as protection for COVID do not provide sufficient protection from wildfire smoke inhalation.

The River Fire has burned 4,000 acres and is 5 percent contained as of 9:55 a.m. this morning, according to CAL FIRE's incident page.

The District’s Wildfire Information Page is located at For more information, call a district office in Bakersfield at 661-392-5500.

Coronavirus Cases widget

  • Positive Cases Among Kern Residents: 156,517

  • Deaths: 1,781

  • Recovered and Presumed Recovered Residents: 147,668

  • Percentage of all cases that are unvaccinated: 92.72

  • Percentage of all hospitalizations that are unvaccinated: 93.17