Wildfires in California, Oregon and Washington have created hazardous air conditions throughout the Western United States as smoke from the devastating blazes stretches for thousands of miles.
Air quality in Seattle; Portland, Oregon; San Francisco; and Los Angeles is some of the worst in the world.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, stores have sold out of air purifiers as residents seek refuge from the blazes, which have burned since August. The fires have charred over 3.2 million acres and destroyed about 4,000 structures in California, killing at least 22 people. Gov. Gavin Newsom said the air quality in wildfire zones "is equivalent to smoking 20 packs of cigarettes."
Sameh Tamimi, who works at a heating and air conditioning service in San Francisco, told NBC Bay Area that his company is getting more than 130 calls every day to replace air conditioning filters or add filtration systems. The most popular items at Ace Hardware stores are N95 masks and home air purifiers.
As of Sunday morning, at least 10 people had died because of the fires in the Oregon, where smoke has turned the air toxic. In Portland, volunteers are distributing masks, especially as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says wildfire smoke can irritate the lungs and make people more susceptible to infections, including the coronavirus.
Officials told residents in Washington to stay indoors, close windows and avoid strenuous exercise outdoors. The land that has burned in just the past week has already amounted to the state's second-worst fire season, after 2015, said Gov. Jay Inslee, who is calling the fires "climate fires."
Longtime Las Vegas resident Frank Satterfield Jr., 30, an IT system analyst, said the smoke drifting into Nevada from the other states has been so bad that it has triggered his asthma.
"I actually had to use my inhaler for the first time in months," he said.