Residents in California Are Told To Stop Burning Candles After the Wildfire Season Began

By: Stephanie Bontorin | Published: Jun 18, 2024

California officials have urged residents to give up a surprising item after the first deadly wildfires swept through the state. The air quality is so bad that it’s recommended to avoid all candle and fireplace use until further notice.

The Post Fire, the first major wildfire of the year, started on Saturday afternoon and forced more than 1,200 people to evacuate their homes. As of Monday afternoon, the fire burned more than 15,000 acres and has caused detrimental effects to the air quality in the state.

South Coast Air Quality Management District Issued Air Quality Alerts

Over the weekend, the South Coast Air Quality Management District issued a serious air quality alert for the following cities: Lake Castiac, Newhall, Santa Clarita, Valencia, Tejon Pass, Gorman, Pyramid Lake, Acton, Warm Springs, Mill Creek, Mount Wilson, Mount Baldy, Wrightwood, and The Angeles Crest Highway.

A section of forest recently burned by forest fire with dark smoke overhead

Source: Chris Leboutillier/Unsplash

The alert lasted until 5 p.m. local time on Monday evening after elevated fire particular matter was identified in the air.

Specifics From the Air Quality Alert

The air quality alert urged residents to stay indoors with windows closed or seek alternative shelter if smoke is detected around their homes. It is also recommended that vigorous activity or running outdoors be avoided.

A view of downtown Los Angeles with heavy smog above

Source: Andreas Strandman/Unsplash

As well, using air conditioners or fans that import air from outside is strongly discouraged. Instead, use indoor fans or alternative methods of cooling.

Officials Recommend Avoiding Candle Use or Fireplaces

In addition to avoiding the outdoors, officials recommend ceasing the use of candles and indoor fireplaces.

A person holds a lit candle in their hands with three other lit candles behind

Source: Rebecca Peterson/Unsplash

The air quality alert also noted, “Avoid burning wood in your fireplace or firepit and minimize sources of indoor air pollution such as candles, incense, pan-frying, and grilling. If you must be outdoors, keep the time brief and wear a tightly-fitted N-95 or P-100 respirator to help reduce exposure. Limit the use of gasoline powered lawn and garden equipment.”

Harms of Indoor Candle Usage

Although curling up with a good book and a scented candle might seem cozy, it might actually harm you. Public health authorities have warned that recurring indoor candle burning causes exposure to dangerous levels of organic pollutants.

Two small candles lit on a wood table and a book open next to it

Source: Valentina Ivanova/Unsplash

The combustion created indoors is incredibly toxic to the lungs and can increase the air pollution inside the home.

Serious Illness Is at Risk When Creating Any Type of Smoke Indoors

According to the South Coast Air Quality Management alert, inhaling smoke from a single candle can cause “serious health problems.”

A candle with a smoking wick

Source: Annie Spratt/Unsplash

Possible complications from long-term exposure can cause lung disease, asthma attacks and acute bronchitis, as well as an increased risk of respiratory infections.


Certain People Are Especially at Risk

Unfortunately, many people are at heightened risk of illness from indoor burning sources.

An elderly man wearing a blue baseball cap sitting in a wheelchair in a park

“Additionally, people with respiratory or heart disease, older adults, and children are particularly susceptible and should avoid prolonged exposure.”


Healthy Individuals Can Also Be Affected By Poor Air Quality

Even those in good health can be affected by the elevated pollution level in the air.

A man running on the street with blue shoes

Source: Sporlab/Unsplash

The alert also mentioned that “Levels of particle pollution can vary hour by hour and by location depending on fire behavior and local weather conditions,” and that everyone should be checking air quality updates before resuming normal activity.


Several States Are Suffering From Poor Air Quality

Due to the increased temperatures in the Western states this year, California is not the only place struggling with air quality issues.

A road and forest filled with smoke and small flames from a forest fire. A white truck drive down the road

Source: Marcus Kauffman/Unsplash

Experts have noted that the increased heat is a “silent killer” with possibly fatal consequences. Not only will people suffer from heat strokes at a higher rate, but wildfires and extreme weather events will also become more common.


Canadian Wildfires Carried Massive Plumes of Smoke Over Several States

Earlier last month, massive fires intensified throughout British Columbia and Alberta, causing detrimental effects in several U.S. States.

A dramatic night scene showing a wildfire engulfing a mountain, with flames and smoke visible against the dark sky, reflecting a severe and urgent environmental disaster

Source: Mike Newbry/Unsplash

Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota all suffered from worsened air quality due to the fire smoke. The air quality index ranged from “moderate” to “unhealthy” until the smoke cleared days later.


Officials Recommended Avoiding Fuelling Cars

At the height of the air quality issues in California, officials even recommended residents avoid leaving their homes to gas up their cars.

An ExxonMobil gas station in Hiawassee, Georgia, it is a sunny day, there is a blue house nearby

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Inhaling any amount of smoke can be dangerous to individuals. If anyone has the ability to leave their home, it is recommended that they wear an N95 mask.


Firefighters Are Working Diligently To Contain the Fire

So far, the blaze has been 24% contained as firefighters continue to work tirelessly in Ventura and LA.

Three firemen stand in front of a raging wildfire at night

Source: @VCFD_PIO/X

Wind gusts are increasing from 35 to 55 mph and are expected to continue through Tuesday night.