Air Pollution High in Fire's Wake

Breathing carefully, residents return to face gas, water shortages, power outages
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 27, 2007 2:16 PM CDT
Wearing a mask to filter out dust, Oscar Limas holds melted silver coins salvaged from the ruins of the Malibu Glass and Mirror buildings six days after fire first swept through Malibu, Calif., Friday,...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Evacuees trickling home in fire-ravaged Southern California find themselves largely without power, natural gas or potable water. Perhaps worse, the barely breathable air is laden with soot and dust, raising health concerns, the AP reports. Satellite pictures show thick smoke throughout the region. “We're all at risk of the fine particulate matter we can inhale,” said a Breathe LA spokeswoman, urging people to stay indoors.

Air quality was worst in San Diego County, the AP says, where only two of five major fires were even 50% contained. Those fires still endanger 23,000 homes. But normalcy was returning elsewhere in San Diego, with school districts reopening, and the Chargers set to play tomorrow at Qualcomm. But with air pollution so high, health advocates advise watching from home.