Smoke advisory extended in Coachella Valley due to mulch fire

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THERMAL (CNS) – The South Coast Air Quality Management District again extended a smoke advisory on Sunday for portions of the Coachella Valley in eastern Riverside County due to a 35-acre debris fire burning in Thermal.

The advisory will be in effect through Monday afternoon and applies to Thermal, La Quinta, Mecca and communities near the Salton Sea.

The fire has been burning since Monday near 66th Avenue and Martinez Road at the Sun Valley Recycling Center.

The Riverside County Fire Department initially responded to the fire but the Bureau of Indian Affairs is now the lead agency.

Fire crews are at the scene and appear to be letting the fuel burn itself out.
SCAQMD officials said they expect the fire to burn at least through Sunday.

Wind was forecast to blow from the north and northwest Sunday evening and throughout the night, pushing smoke toward Oasis, Mecca and the Salton Sea, according to SCAQMD. On Monday, winds are expected to blow from the southeast, pushing smoke toward La Quinta and Thermal.

The Coachella Valley Unified School District also cancelled school Monday due to the ongoing fire.

On Thursday, 14 students from Desert Mirage High School were taken to a hospital with respiratory problems due to the smoke, and several schools were evacuated. Classes were cancelled district-wide on Friday.

Air quality may become unhealthy for sensitive groups in the areas directly impacted by the smoke, and residents in those areas who see ash or smell smoke were advised to stay indoors with windows and doors shut, SCAQMD officials said.