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Air quality back to normal in L.A. Basin

Three weeks after the Station fire began, most hazardous smoke has dissipated, regulators say.

September 15, 2009|Ari B. Bloomekatz

Air quality has improved to "good" and "moderate" levels in Los Angeles County after clouds of smoke from the nearly three-week Station fire prompted health officials to caution residents and warn against strenuous outdoor activities.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District has not issued a smoke advisory since Thursday and has since reported that most unhealthy air in the Los Angeles Basin is not attributed to the fire, said spokesman Sam Atwood.

"There is a small possibility where there could be some unhealthy air quality in areas that are directly impacted by smoke, but we just haven't seen that occurring in the San Gabriel or San Fernando valleys the last couple of days," Atwood said.

He said that air quality levels, particularly in some of the foothill areas, had reached hazardous levels at the outset of the blaze.

"I think we're essentially back to the normal air quality situation for this time of year," he said.

An AQMD map forecasting today's air quality in Los Angeles and surrounding counties shows mostly green and yellow, correlating to "good" and "moderate" levels.

Nonetheless, Los Angeles County's top public health official warned that air quality in the immediate vicinity of the Station fire could still be dangerous.

"In any area of visible smoke or where there is an odor of smoke, all individuals are urged to be cautious and to avoid unnecessary outdoor activities," said Jonathan E. Fielding of the Department of Public Health.

The Station fire, which began late last month, has burned more than 160,500 acres and is 87% contained, fire officials said. Crews are mostly working on its eastern edge in the San Gabriel Wilderness, and full containment is expected Saturday.

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ari.bloomekatz@latimes.com

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