Skies Turn Orange 'Like a Scene From Mars'

Wildfires also create 'a strange smell' over the Bay Area
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 9, 2020 4:21 PM CDT
Updated Sep 9, 2020 5:50 PM CDT
Skies Turn Orange 'Like a Scene From Mars'
In this image taken with a slow shutter speed, embers light up a hillside behind the Bidwell Bar Bridge as the Bear Fire burns in Oroville, Calif., on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. The blaze, part of the lightning-sparked North Complex, expanded at a critical rate of spread as winds buffeted the region.   (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Wildfires raging through Oregon, Washington, California, and neighboring states caused an eerie orange light to appear over parts of the West Coast on Wednesday, NBC News reports. "I have never seen the sky in SF look like this in the nearly 20 years I've lived here," wrote one Twitter user, who added that it "looks like a scene from Mars." Bay Area residents also saw their sky darken as the morning wore on, the sun invisible behind a veil of smoke, and one described a "strange smell, although not a smell of wildfire as you would expect." Air quality was reported as moderate, but the National Weather Service said area air monitors—which pick up smaller particulates—might be unable to measure the larger falling ash.

Meanwhile, the AP reports that firefighters could get a break from a temperature drop of up to 60 degrees that helped curb wildfires in Montana and Colorado. "The significantly colder airmass is helping reduce critical fire conditions across the West, however most of West coastline and adjacent counties have Red Flag warnings in effect for part of today," the weather service said. Dry conditions and gusty winds have spelled trouble for firefighters thus far, fueling an unprecedented fire tally in California and burning more acreage in one day than Washington usually sees in a year. People have also evacuated their homes in Idaho and Oregon. (Authorities say the falling ash could be toxic.)

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