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Smoke Levels Now Being Monitored

Citing health concerns from thick smoke coming from three large fires burning in the Mother Lode region, U.S. Forest Service officials on the Stanislaus National Forest have set up real-time air quality monitors to keep tabs on levels.

Forest Service fire information spokeswoman Maggie Craig says monitors have been set up in Murphy´s and in Tuolumne City. She says data from the monitors show no health risks at this time from smoke particles.

The monitors are placed in areas where Forest service officials had received the most calls complaining about the smoke.

Fire officials say the Mud Complex Fire southeast of Bear Valley, the Mountain Complex Fire burning near Pinecrest Lake, the Kibbie Complex Fire in Yosemite National Park and the Stanislaus are the main source of all the smoke. None of these fire are threatening any communities. These fires, all in upper elevation areas of the forest, were sparked by lighting this summer and are being allowed to burn as part of the Forest Service´s Fire Use Management Plan.

Craig said the Kibbie Fire has picked-up in intensity over the past few days and firefighters working it have begun to aggressively fight the blaze on its southwest flank. Forty more firefighters including an U.S. Forest Service Hot Shots crew are now on the firelines along with the other crews and aircraft currently working the fire. She said this will help cut back on the amount of smoke being generated by the fire coming into the Groveland region.

Interested residents can monitor the smoke level readings by going to the U.S. Forest Service Website: www.fs.fed.us/r5/stanislaus. From there you can click on “Fire Use-Incident Information” and find “Interagency Real Time Smoke Monitoring.”

You can also call the Stanislaus National Forest Sonora office at (209) 532-3671, Extension 343 for more information.

Craig says a possible change in the weather this weekend might help lessen the smoke problem.