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Smoke prompts health advisory for Bishop

August 1, 2013

The Sierra Nevada range is completely obscured from view Thursday morning by smoke from the Aspen Fire that also led Great Basin Air Pollution Control to issue a Stage 1 health advisory for northern Inyo County. Photo by Darcy Ellis

THURSDAY, AUG. 1 –– Great Basin Air Pollution Control District issued a Stage 1 health advisory this morning for northern Inyo County – the first time it’s had to do so since the Aspen Fire broke out in Sierra National Forest July 22.
Smoke from the fire, which grew another 2,000 acres overnight, has been plaguing Mammoth, Crowley Lake and Bishop for the past nine days – obscuring views and contributing to elevated air pollution levels.
Great Basin has issued Stage 1 or Stage 2 health advisories for Mammoth Lakes or southern Mono County the past four days and extended yesterday’s Stage 1 advisory this morning for those communities as well.
Because of “elevated particulate pollution levels,” the advisory states, “children, the elderly, people with heart or lung problems, or people with current illnesses such as the flu, are advised to stay indoors and avoid strenuous outdoors activities in the impacted areas.”
The Stage 1 advisory was issued based on pollution levels crossing the threshold of 100 micrograms per cubic meter of air – a far lower threshold than is set for wind-blown dust because wood smoke particulates are much finer and, therefor, more hazardous, according to Great Basin Research Systems Analyst Phil Kiddoo.
At 6 a.m. today, meters on the Bishop Paiute Reservation measured 163 micrograms per cubic meter.
A Stage 2 health advisory – which applies to everyone, not just those who are sensitive or ill – is issued when particulate concentrations cross the 200 threshold, Kiddoo said.
The Aspen Fire is burning in the Sierra Nevada west of Bishop and south of Mammoth Lakes. At 7:20 p.m. Wednesday, it was reported at 14,400 acres in size; this morning, 16,204. The blaze is 40 percent contained with 1,947 personnel assigned to the fight.
Great Basin will issue updated advisories as needed. For current particulate levels, visit

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