“Unhealthy” air quality was recorded in Santa Barbara County on Thursday night as smoke from California wildfires spread across the region.

The Air Pollution Control District has issued an air quality warning for the county, and additional impacts from the smoke are in the forecast through at least Friday. 

Air quality updates are available on the APCD website with information from monitoring stations throughout Santa Barbara County.

Lightning strikes sparked more than 370 fires in the state last weekend, including several local ones that have been extinguished.

“Currently, over 10,000 firefighters are battling nearly two dozen major incidents or complexes with numerous fires across all jurisdictions. Weather is a critical factor in the firefight, including high heat, low humidity and strong winds, and the high heat will continue into the weekend, exacerbating firefighting efforts,” CalFire said in a statewide incident summary Thursday.

No wildfires were burning in San Luis Obispo or Santa Barbara counties as of Thursday night, but a staggering amount of large fires were burning around the San Francisco Bay Area and in Ventura and Los Angeles counties, among other areas.

“If you see or smell smoke in the air, be cautious and use common sense to protect your and your family’s health,” APCD’s warning stated. “Everyone, especially people with heart or lung disease (including asthma), older adults, pregnant women, and children, should limit time spent outdoors and avoid outdoor exercise when high concentrations of smoke and particles are in the air.”

air quality website

The Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District website includes current air quality conditions, as seen here from 8 p.m. Thursday. (APCD graphic)

APCD noted that cloth face coverings do not adequately protect against inhaling wildfire smoke, while N-95 masks offer meaningful protection if worn properly. 

“However, due to COVID-19, N-95 masks are in extremely short supply and should be reserved for frontline workers. For this reason, to the extent possible, people should stay indoors when wildfire smoke is present as opposed to wearing an N-95 mask or a cloth face covering and going outside,” the APCD stated. 

The National Weather Service forecast calls for smoky weather across Santa Barbara County through Friday night, and more hot weather, with a heat advisory issued for the Santa Ynez Valley.

Click here for the latest weather forecast for Santa Barbara.

Click here for the latest weather forecast for Santa Maria.

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at gmagnoli@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Managing Editor

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at gmagnoli@noozhawk.com.