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Air quality suffers, schools stay closed and animals find shelter

Contingencies are announced throughout the area as fires continue amid a Southland heat wave.

August 31, 2009|Corina Knoll

As the Station fire spread Sunday, lives were lost; homes and dense forests were destroyed. There were other consequences as well. Here is a look at three:

Air quality

The fire reduced air quality to hazardous levels in foothill communities of the San Gabriel Valley and San Fernando Valley, officials said Sunday.

The cities of Altadena, La Canada Flintridge and La Crescenta were directly affected by the smoke, as were the Los Angeles communities of Tujunga and Sunland.

The area recorded an Air Quality Index of 398. Anything above 100 is considered unhealthful, officials said.

"It's been a long time since we've recorded an [air quality index] of this high a level," said Sam Atwood, spokesman for the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

Dense smoke tends to settle into valleys when there is no wind. Some of it is expected to be swept into the mountains by ocean breezes Monday morning, Atwood said.

"It's really time for people with heart and lung disease -- bronchitis, asthma, emphysema -- to think about leaving to a less smoky area," Atwood said.

Schools

* All Glendale Unified schools will be closed today; they had been scheduled to begin the fall semester.

* Los Angeles Unified schools in Sunland and the eastern San Fernando Valley that are not in session have canceled or modified their summer athletic practices.

* Pasadena Unified schools are on summer break but have suspended athletic practice sessions until further notice.

* La Canada Unified has postponed its first day of classes until Tuesday.

Animals

As of Sunday afternoon, the Pasadena Humane Society had taken in about 200 domestic pets, as well as a bobcat and red-tailed hawk from the Clear Creek Outdoor Recreation Center in the Angeles National Forest.

With 200 animals already housed in the shelter, staff members set up collapsible metal kennels in their boardroom and behavior center to accommodate the new arrivals.

"If we have to spread out into offices, we will do that as well," said Hillary Gatlin, a human society community resources assistant.

Gatlin said no animals had suffered any injuries from the fire, although some were warm from the extreme heat. The agency will continue to admit evacuated animals at no charge, but owners are asked to pick up their pets at the earliest opportunity.

At Animal Acres in Acton, cattle, pigs, sheep and goats were loaded into trailers headed for an evacuation site in Palmdale. Director Lorri Houston built the facility after a 2007 fire.

"The good news is, I think the public is becoming more aware that we need to have fire preparedness and evacuation sites for animals too," Houston said.

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corina.knoll@latimes.com

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