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Aircraft Continue Work On Controlled Fires

Aircraft from the Columbia CDF Air Attack Base continued their patrols this weekend, monitoring three separate fires in the Stanislaus National Forest.

The fires, sparked by summer lightning, are burning in remote areas of the forest where, fire officials say, they pose no threat to homes or developed areas. The fires, allowed to burn as part of the Forest Service’s Fire Use Management Plan, are regularly monitored by air crews from Columbia.

However, acrid smoke has been wafting into populated areas raising pollution levels.

Air quality monitors have been set up in Murphys and in Tuolumne City, said Forest Service fire information spokeswoman Maggie Craig. The monitors are placed in areas where Forest service officials have received the most complaints about the smoke.

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.

For more than a week smoke from the fires has been filtering into the foothills particularly in the areas around Sonora, Twain Harte and Murphys. The smoke is exceptionally noticeable in the morning hours, hanging in the low drainages and in the trees, cutting visibility dramatically.

Officials say the fires are likely to continue burning until the winter rains begin.