Mineral County has been covered in a heavy blanket of smoke since last week from large wildfires burning in Northern Nevada and California.

The air quality for the county has been considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, according to the National Environmental Protection Agency website. A “sensitive” group according to the site, states: “Although general public is not likely to be affected at this AQI (air quality index) range, people with lung disease, older adults and children are at a greater risk from exposure to ozone, whereas persons with heart and lung disease, older adults and children are at a greater risk from the presence of particles in the air.”

Wildland fires are raging across the Western States with 157 fires actively burning at press time. Mineral County has not been spared from the dry conditions. According to fireweatheravalanche.org, there have been four fires within the county. The Borealis Fire, which burned .01 acres a week ago; Anchorite Fire, which burned 2.5 acres, two weeks ago; the Border Fire with burned zero acres and the 3N02 fire which also burned .01 acres. All these fires are controlled or contained.

Unfortunately, many wildland fires are far from contained. The Ferguson Fire near Yosemite, still rages on having burned 57,041 acres; the Perry Fire by Pyramid Lake which as burnt 42,399 acres and the Carr Fire near Roseville, Calif. which has burnt 80,906 acres. Each of these fires is still being actively fought and is listed in active status.

The large Martin Fire near Winnemucca, which started on July 4, is finally contained after burning 435,569 acres. Said to have been set by fireworks, members of the small community of Paradise have banned together to offer a reward to anyone who has information leading to the arrest of the suspect rumored to have set off the fireworks, causing the immense damage.

Air quality data is not recorded in Mineral County, so numbers are taken from the Reno area where a spokesman for the health district stated that the numbers are based on a 24-hour average.

“But in reality, it’s really bad,” he explained.

Visibility at Reno Tahoe-International Airport was reduced to three miles on Monday afternoon. Westerly winds could improve the air quality mid to late week, but could also blow in more smoke from other fires.

Residents are urged to stay indoors when possible – keeping the windows and doors closed. The running of an air conditioner is advised but keep the fresh air intake closed and the filter cleaned to reduce the irritants.

The Center for Disease Control also recommends seeking the advice of your health care provider if you are experiencing difficulties due to the smoky conditions. Evacuation may be in order if conditions worsen. The use of paper dust masks is not recommended as they will “not protect your lungs from the small particles found in wildfire smoke,” the CDC explained.

If you are witness to the start of a wildfire, you are urged to contact local law enforcement immediately and give clear directions to the area.