County of Marin - News Releases - Wildfire Smoke Advisory

For Immediate Release
November 09, 2018

Public Health Cautions Marin About Wildfire Smoke

No advisory for school closures because of drifting smoke from Butte County

San Rafael, CA – Marin County schools are open Friday, November 9, despite smoky conditions from the 70,000-acre wildfire burning in Butte County, about 150 miles to the northeast.

Smoke from the wildfire in Butte County is seen from the Marin County Civic CenterSmoke from the wildfire in Butte County is seen from the Marin County Civic Center on the morning of November 9.
An early morning communication to school leadership, Marin County Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis clarified that there was no formal recommendation from the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services to close schools.

“There is little evidence that with these air quality levels that children are better off at home,” he wrote. “In fact, keeping children at home can increase exposure, especially when parents cannot be at home during the day to ensure children aren’t spending too much time outside. Also, the air quality in homes is likely to be similar to that in schools.”

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that certain activities be curtailed when smoke levels get as high as they were in Marin County on Friday, but it does not recommend closures.

“The challenge of blanket school closures is also that the situation can change quickly depending on winds and varies a lot even within the county,” Willis said.

Public Health officials shared an air quality and outdoor activity guide for school officials to help them make choices on children’s activities. Friday conditions were red, one step below the critical purple on a health rating provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website,

The most common symptoms of smoke exposure are eye and throat irritation, coughing, and difficulty breathing. Persons with health problems, especially heart or respiratory conditions, should take extra caution. Marin HHS has shared health tips for Marin residents on its website,


Dr. Matthew Willis
Public Health Officer
Health and Human Services

3240 Kerner Blvd.
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 473-4163
Email: Dr. Matthew Willis
Marin HHS website