A smoky fire on farmland west of Porterville is fouling the air and potentially causing breathing problems, according to the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, but there’s a problem in trying to put it out.
Those with breathing problems should stay indoors, as should the young and elderly, the air district stated.
Smoke already has descended on Porterville, Visalia and other communities in the South Valley. And if the fire is not put out soon, the smoke will drift into eastern Kern County as a high-pressure ridge builds and temperatures rise.
Breathing risks come into play because smoke carries particulate matter, called PM2.5, that can cause lung disease, asthma and increased risk of heart attacks and stroke.
The fire started this week in a former orchard, where the trees had been ground into chips, in the area of Avenue 152 and Road 208, Tulare County Fire Chief Charlie Norman said. Spontaneous combustion caused the fire, he said.
So much water would be needed to put out the fire that spraying it with fire hoses is not very effective, the chief said, so another plan is being used.
“The property owner is trying to build a berm and they will flood it,” he said, noting the owner will use his own water from a pond.
In the meantime, the public should expect to keep seeing plenty of smoke.
Authorities placed reverse 911 calls to homes in the area warning that there will be “a lot of smoke” until the fire is out, he said.
It’s also not the only fire in the area.
The King wildfire in mountains southeast of Porterville likely will cause smoke to blow toward the city in the mornings, the National Weather Service reported.