The Walker fire burns in a northern California forest. Trees are engulfed in flames and there is smoke in the air.
Missvain/Wikimedia Commons
The Walker Fire burns in northern California on Sunday, Sept. 8. The Walker Fire has affected the air quality in the Reno area.

The Walker Fire erupted on Wednesday, Sept. 4 at around 12 a.m. in Plumas County, according to officials, approximately 11 miles east of the community of Taylorsville, Calif. According to the U.S. Forest Service, the Walker Fire has grown to 50,940 acres and is 35% contained as of Saturday, Sept. 14. The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

As the blaze grows, smoke from the Walker Fire and other California wildfires is impacting Reno air quality. Reno citizens can expect moderate to unhealthy air quality at times.

The National Weather Service’s Reno office issued a dense smoke advisory Sunday, Sept. 7, set to stay in place through Monday, Sept. 9, warning that both visibility and air quality could be “severely degraded” throughout Lassen County, in the eastern parts of Plumas and Sierra counties and in a stretch of Washoe County north of Reno.

An air quality forecast index map indicated conditions along the Nevada-California border were unhealthy for sensitive groups of people throughout last weekend.

The U.S. Forest Service says the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office has reduced the evacuation level from mandatory to advisory in all areas except for the Murdock Crossing and Stony Ridge areas. Residents that have returned to their homes are advised to continue to monitor the situation.

Additionally, there was an increase in temperatures and lower humidity and increasing wind conditions throughout last weekend, creating a much more active fire behavior and challenging conditions for firefighters on the line.

According to a U.S. Forest Service fire update given on Sept. 13, In an effort to keep the fire within its current footprint if tested by forecasted winds, firefighters are working diligently to strengthen containment lines by removing fuel between the fire and control lines. This will serve as a buffer and limit the potential of the fire extending beyond established lines.

Plumas National Forest has issued a forest closure order for the Mt. Hough and Beckwourth Ranger Districts. Fire personnel will continue to be supported by aircraft as long as smoke and winds permits.

According to the Sacramento Region Spare the Air website, it is forecasted that on Sunday, Sept. 15, as an upper-level trough of low pressure approaches northern California, moderate onshore winds will disperse pollutants and bring cleaner, cooler air into the Sacramento region, lowering ozone levels. 

The following Monday mostly cloudy skies and cool temperatures will limit ozone formation, and rain showers and winds will disperse pollutants. As a result, ozone levels will be good.Further safety information and alerts can be found on the Plumas National Forest website.

Kennady Pine can be reached at or on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.