Effects of Butte County Fire Felt on Campus

By Charlotte Glass, Copy Editor

Update 11/15:18: Students must stay indoors during lunch to prevent serious harm from low air quality levels of 350.

// Smoke from yet another California fire clouds the Acalanes halls and lungs of students. What started this morning in Paradise, California has quickly developed into a raging, uncontained wildfire resulting in the evacuation of tens of thousands of people. While roughly 150 miles north of Lafayette, effects of the Butte County fire were prevalent today on campus.

  “When I went outside, I was very surprised to see it because it wasn’t here at break and then just as lunch started, it was really smoky,” junior Isabella Gonzales said.

  Complaints regarding ash and smoke inflicted headaches, sooty smell, haze, throat pain, eye burning, and breathing difficulties—all reminiscent of the fires felt at Acalanes last spring.  

  “Sometimes when I breathe in a lot of smoke like last year, I just get really tired, I think,” Gonzales said.

  The air quality index, as calculated by Purpleair, the district’s source for readings on air quality, is “low” enough that staying indoors is recommended, thereby proving students’ grievances today to be reasonable. Already feeling the consequences in the short term, some students are fearful of their health in the future.

Courtesy of Meg Riley, a resident of Butte County

   “I think that it’s going to hurt my health, especially if this keeps recurring,” sophomore Nicole Frigon said.  

  Questions regarding what future action Acalanes should take in response to the poor air quality were prompted.  

   “I think we should be inside for lunch. I think passing period is okay, but the majority of the day should be spent inside,” sophomore Beth Hamalian said.

  On the contrary, some students do not feel that the effects of the Butte County fire were severe enough to spurr administrative action. The majority regarded impacts of the incident on campus as more of an inconvenience than a deterioration of their health.    

  “My nose stung and it looked pretty bad, but other than that, it seemed like a normal day,” junior Alex Hasse said.

  Freshman Osmani Cardenas expressed similar reaction to the air condition.

  “I mean, I don’t think it will affect my day too much other than the smell,” Cardenas said.

  Regardless of student response, sport practices for today and possibly this week, seeing that the fire currently remains uncontained, will be determined by the prevailing air quality.

  “What we need to do is go to the air quality website, and if the air quality reading is over 150, then all sports will be canceled. If it is over, I think 110, then it is questionable whether it should happen or not,” Acalanes sports director Randal Takahashi said.    

Stay tuned for further updates from administration and health faculty.

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