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Heavy smoke blanketing San Francisco Bay Area

Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

(SAN FRANCISCO) — A smoky haze is currently blanketing the San Francisco Bay Area due to wildfires burning in the northwest, creating unhealthy air quality for sensitive groups.

The smoke stemming from multiple wildfires that continue to burn in rural areas of Northwestern California is getting pushed southward across parts of Northern California, including the Bay Area. Much of the smoke and haze is located in the upper atmosphere.

Fire officials are letting them burn out since they are not threatening people or property.

The smoke was so thick on Wednesday that the San Francisco Bay Bridge was barely visible from the coastlines along the bay and the San Francisco skyline was barely visible across the bay from the Port of Oakland, ABC San Francisco station KGO reported.

The Air Quality Index for San Francisco on Wednesday afternoon was at 113, or “Code Orange,” signifying unhealthy air pollution levels for sensitive groups.

Much of the smoke and haze is located in the upper atmosphere. The National Weather Service has not issued any air quality alerts for the region, but the Bay Area Air Quality Management District has issued a “Spare the Air” alert through Thursday, which bans burning wood, fire logs or other solid fuel to prevent from further contributing to the poor air quality.

A fire weather watch was in effect for much of Wednesday for the North Bay Hills and Solano County due to gusty winds and low humidity. Red flag warnings were also issued for portions of Napa County, according to the NWS.

San Francisco resident Sarah Ryherd told KGO that it smells like a campfire around the city.

Another resident told the station that they had put a mask on after he began to feel the effects of the air pollution in their throat.

Some schools in the region canceled sports activities due to the smoke, KGO reported. The fine particulate matter, known as PM2.5, contained in wildfire smoke can cause serious health problems if inhaled, especially for vulnerable populations, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Air quality will likely not improve in the region until Friday, said KGO meteorologist Lisa Argen.

Residents were advised to stay indoors and keep their windows closed.

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