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REDDING, Calif. – The smoke was so thick that the inside of my house appeared smoky even though the windows were all closed. Driving to work was like driving in tule fog, something that rarely occurs this far north.

There are over 100 lightning sparked fires burning in Trinity County, 100 in Shasta County and scores of fires in Butte County. The entire northern Sacramento Valley is blanketed in thick smoke. Fire fighting aircraft are grounded because of the visibility impairment.

Evacuations are presently occuring in the Platina, Junction City, and Mountain Gate. Yesterday, residents were allowed to return to their homes in Shingletown.

Red Bluff has cancelled its July 4th fireworks show, citing visibility issues. Redding’s downtown MarketFest group has postponed its usual Thursday festivities. Even local Little Leagues are contemplating what to do for their upcoming All Star Tournaments if the smoke persists.

The Shasta County Air Quality Management District has declared the air “unhealthy” for the last three days, cautioning the elderly and children to stay inside. People with swamp coolers are advised to shut them down as they draw the outside air into the house. A local medical group is handing out 400 free respirator masks to those suffering from respiratory heart disease or anyone else that is required to be outside for long periods during the day.

All residents of the North State should take precautions to limit exposure to this unhealthy air.

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