The Camp Fire still burning in Northern California has brought another dangerous event: air conditions so toxic in the Bay Area that residents are urged to stay indoors or wear a mask outside in the face of potentially serious health risks.
This has given rise to a trend: air mask selfies. The photos capture the gravity of the hazardous conditions in the major metropolitan area, where life outside has virtually shut down, with no clear end in sight.
School districts and universities have closed, some workers are staying home, outdoor events have been canceled, and vaguely apocalyptic-seeming filtered-air centers have been set up around the region. The air-quality index in the area was about 240 on Friday, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA defines that as very unhealthy, meaning that “everyone may experience more serious health effects.” And the conditions are forecast at least through Tuesday.
In San Francisco, tourist attractions such as its famed cable cars and Alcatraz Island were shut down, while Muni — the city’s public transit — was made free so people could more easily get around. Officials are recommending people wear N95 respirator masks outside.
“The winds are light and offshore, so there’s nothing to move the smoke,” Suzanne Sims, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “It’s there, and it’s not going anywhere."