Smoke devours the West Coast as wildfires continue to spread


Sofia Pye '21

The West Coast continues to battle rapidly spreading wildfires.

As wildfires continue to spread throughout the states of California, Washington, and Oregon, researchers caution the residents of the affected areas about certain health risks caused by poor air quality.  Students and faculty members from Convent & Stuart Hall in San Francisco, a Sacred Heart network school, are experiencing the hazardous climate of the Bay Area firsthand. 

Fires are burning across the West Coast, putting California, Washington, and Oregon in a state of crisis.  The August Complex fire started August 17 in the Mendocino National Forest due to lightning storms, according to  It became California’s largest wildfire ever recorded, burning 1,006,140 acres of land, according to The New York Times.

California wildfires continue to bring smoke to the Bay Area.  Courtesy of Ms. Jessica Getz

As the state continues to battle 23 major wildfires, Northern California has a red flag warning, meaning warm temperatures, very low humidities, and stronger winds combine to produce an increased risk of fire danger, according to  As a result, the affected states battle against the poor air qualities in the midst of the fires. 

One in seven Americans are affected by the poor air quality due to the wildfires this year.  Nearly 50 million people living in California, Washington, and Oregon have experienced at least one day in unhealthy air quality this wildfire season, according to  Dr. Thomas Apel, Upper School History and Social Sciences Teacher at Convent & Stuart Hall, remarks on how the atmosphere in San Francisco has left residents feeling unsure about the near future. 

The August Complex Fire is the largest ongoing fire in California’s history.  Courtesy of

“Folks are upset and I think a bit overwhelmed,” Dr. Apel said.  “The air quality is terrible and unsafe, and rolling blackouts have intermittently terminated power in large parts of the Bay Area.  Unfortunately, however, this is nothing new to Californians.  It’s happened for several consecutive years, and my feeling is that the people have grown inured to it all.”

Featured Image by Sofia Pye ‘21