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A lightning strike started a fire. Now dangerous smoke has reached this community.

A lightning strike on June 24 started a fire in the Kennedy Meadows area of the Sequoia National Forest. The San Joaquin Air Pollution Control District warned residents of dangerous smoke levels.
A lightning strike on June 24 started a fire in the Kennedy Meadows area of the Sequoia National Forest. The San Joaquin Air Pollution Control District warned residents of dangerous smoke levels.

Smoke from a nearby fire has invaded a community in the southeast mountain area of Tulare County. And the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District said serious health problems could arise if residents are exposed for a long period of time.

“Kennedy Meadows is engulfed in smoke,” said Cassandra Melching, outreach and communications director for the air district’s central and southern regions.

A lightning strike ignited the fire, which has grown to about 600 acres near the community of Kennedy Meadows in the Sequoia National Forest. The fire, called the Schaeffer Fire, is burning at an elevation of about 7,300 feet, Melching said. No structures have burned, and that’s mainly due to the high altitude of the fire, she added. There are currently about four other wildland fires burning in the state.

The air district office said smoke could cause serious health effects to children or elderly people who may have existing respiratory conditions. People with pre-existing conditions like lung complications or asthma, or those who are at risk of a stroke or heart attack are encouraged to stay indoors in well-ventilated conditions as the smoke continues to flow through the area.

The U.S. Forest Service said it does not expect to close any roads due to the fire at this time.

Melching said the air district has not been told when the fire, which erupted Saturday, will be extinguished. Other mountain communities like Johnsondale, Ponderosa and Camp Nelson are also warned of the health risks.

Air quality conditions can be checked online using the air district’s Real-Time Air Advisory Network. For more information, call the air district’s office in Fresno, 559-230-6000.

Cresencio Rodriguez-Delgado: 559-441-6304, @cres_guez

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