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Impact of Wine Country fire felt in schools far outside fire zone because of air quality concerns

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Smoky skies and poor air quality from the Northern California fires has prompted nearly 600 school closures across a wide swath of the San Francisco Bay Area, affecting about 260,000 students.

Smoky air can cause difficulty breathing, especially for those with asthma, as well as runny nose, irritated eyes and shortness of breath. Children are especially vulnerable because their respiratory systems are still developing.

Although some of the closed schools are more than 50 miles from the fire zones, wind has pushed the smoke over a broad area. How long schools will be closed depends on how long the fires continue, and at what level.

Schools in Sonoma, Napa, Solano, Mendocino and Contra Costa counties are closed at least for Thursday, and in some cases Friday as well. Schools closer to the fire zone have been closed all week. A list of closed districts, as of Thursday morning, can be found here.

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