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Wildfire Smoke Information and Resources





Guía de la calidad del aire sobre la contaminación por partículas



Smoke is made up of a complex mixture of gases and fine particles produced when wood and other organic matter burn. The biggest health threat from smoke comes from fine particles. These fine particles are especially harmful to the very young, very old, and to people with heart and lung disease.

Smoke transported from wildfires from as far away as Oregon can degrade air quality throughout Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz counties, causing the concentration of smoke to reach high levels of the Air Quality Index (AQI).  During these periods of variable and unpredictable air quality MBARD will follow the situation and issue advisories when appropriate. Updates on the current air quality forecast and Air Monitoring data can be found at the Air Monitoring and Forecast Webpage.

MBARD advises that if you are being impacted by smoke to consider following these guidelines:

  • When the concentration of smoke has reached UNHEALTHY levels of the AQI, residents should limit their activity by staying indoors with the doors and windows closed to avoid breathing smoke. You may want to check with your health care provider to make sure it’s not necessary for you to leave the area.
  • Use common sense. If it looks smoky outside, it’s probably not a good time to go for a run. And it’s probably not a good time for your children to play outdoors.
  • Help lower inside particle levels inside your home. When smoke levels are high, avoid using anything that burns, such as wood fireplaces, gas logs, gas stoves – even candles. Don’t vacuum as that stirs up particles already inside your home. And don’t smoke. That puts even more pollution in your lungs, and in the lungs of people around you.
  • We ask residents to avoid adding more pollution to the air by limiting activities such as wood burning, driving, lawn mowing, and leaf blowing.

Local Resources

Health Departments:

Monterey County

San Benito County

Santa Cruz County

Offices of Emergency Services:

Monterey County

San Benito County

Santa Cruz County

Wildfire Smoke Resources

CAL FIRE Wildfire Incidents 

US Forest Fires InciWeb

California Smoke Blog

EPA Smoke Ready Toolbox

EPA Fires and Your Health

AirNow - How Smoke from Fires Can Affect Your Health

Strategies to Reduce Exposure to Wildfire Smoke During the COVID-19 Pandemic

UC Davis Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety

Additional Resources

Purple Air

Air Purifiers

Air Purifiers in Your Home

Wind Patterns

Home Cleanup of Ash


County of Santa Cruz CZU Lightning Complex Fire Resources

Monterey County OES Virtual Local Assistance Center

CAL FIRE Post Wildfire Recovery

Cal EPA - Debris Removal

American Red Cross - Cleaning Up After A Fire


PDF: Monterey County - Tips For Returning Home Safely & Beginning Recovery After The Fires

PDF: California Dept of Public Health - Reduce Exposure to Ash When Returning Home

PDF: Departamento de Salud Pública de California - Reduzca la exposición a las cenizas al regresar a casa