Air quality alert issued as wildfire smoke descends on Bay Area

Worsening wildfire smoke and rising temperatures prompted officials to issue a Spare the Air Alert in the Bay Area on Friday.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District said the alert will stay in effect through Saturday. Air quality is expected to be at levels that are unhealthy for sensitive groups across much of the region, and unhealthy for everyone at some higher elevations.

In Berkeley, the federal AirNow website showed several monitors around Grizzly Peak Boulevard were recording air quality index readings early Friday afternoon near or above 150, the level considered unhealthy for everyone, while readings were better at lower elevations. The worst smoke locally appeared to be just on the other side of the hills, with unhealthy air blanketing Orinda, Lafayette and Walnut Creek, among other cities.

The Spare the Air Alert prohibits wood burning in fireplaces, stoves, pellet stoves and outdoor fire pits.

If you can smell smoke, the district recommends taking precautions to avoid exposure such as staying home with your windows closed, or visiting buildings that have filtered air.

You can learn more about smoke in our wildfire guide.