By: Denice Madina and Melany Calderon
Every year, California typically has a wildfire season which lasts about three to four months. This year, a dry thunderstorm that occurred on Aug. 16 at 4:53 a.m. contributed to many fires that have spread throughout Northern California.
“In the middle of the night, there was booming thunder and lightning, and as a result there were many fires that started in Northern California,” Novato Fire Chief Bill Tyler said.
Many San Marin teachers outside of Novato are now worried about how the fires will affect their homes and their ability to teach students. However, some teachers are grateful for distance learning because of the current air quality.
“It was awful for about ten days. It makes me really grateful about distance learning because they would have closed school for smoke days,” social studies teacher Michelle LeMieux said.
In addition to the effects the fires are having on teachers, students are also being greatly affected by the poor air quality. The individuals in the San Marin community that normally have difficulty breathing are being more significantly impacted.
“I really don’t like fires because of how bad the air has gotten,” sophomore Nate Muller said. “I have to use my inhaler 20 times a day just so I can breath.”
The effects the fires are having on the community do not only affect students and staff, but the older population of the community who are at a higher health risk.
“My dads older, he’s 65 now, and he’s a little overweight and pre-diabetic so I worry for him because if he has to evacuate I don’t know where he would go,” science teacher Adriana Lopez said. “He can’t go with us because my boyfriend is in the health industry so he works with people who have COVID-19.”
Novato has received an unhealthy amount of smoke from the wildfires that are burning in neighboring towns and cities. PurpleAir is a community air monitoring system that measures the air quality of cities in towns. When the wildfires first started, PurpleAir measured that the air quality was in the 200 ppm range which is considered very unhealthy. Conditions have continued to improve with the air quality in Novato which averages at 105ppm. This can vary depending on the day considering the air quality has gone as low as single digits.
“There are a lot of bad chemicals in the air such as carbon dioxide and it depends on what is burning, like carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, lead, and particulate,” Tyler said. With the current air quality it’s very important to stay inside due to the air quality.