SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Smoke and ash from the largest wildfire in California history is drifting more than 150 miles to the Sacramento Valley.
“Man, I seen it everywhere,” said Reginald Bowers. “It’s all on cars, it be all on my shirts.”
Thick, dusty ash is swirling in the air and settling on every available surface outside.
“I took a hose and washed it and wiped it down,” said Jack Manhart, who lives in Sacramento.
But the professionals say not so fast.
“Once it gets in contact with moisture and water, it can be detrimental to the paint,” said Adrian Cuevas, the manager at Detail Maniac. “Anything that’s foreign on the paint can potentially scratch the vehicle.”
He blames the chemicals in the ash and says wiping it down just embeds the ash into the paint.
“You can probably see light scratching that looks like spider webbing,” he said.
His recommendation? A wash and a good coat of wax.
“In a perfect world, you’d want to wash it every day that the ash is falling in the air,” Cuevas told CBS13.
But the Sacramento County Department of Water Resources warns that runoff going into storm drains pollutes our rivers and streams. So they recommend taking your vehicle to a car wash equipped to properly get rid of dirty water.
And what about the ash still floating in the air?
“It’s been really hard,” said Emiliano Hernandez. “I have kidney disease and I’m already susceptible to breathing problems as it is.”
We found him braving the outdoors to load up his trunk for a friend.
“If I’m out here for more than 15 minutes, I get really sick and I hyperventilate,” Hernandez said.
His lifeline is an oxygen concentrator running in the garage.
“It purifies the air and gives you air through tubes,” he explained.
Inside, his air conditioner was on high. But experts warn ashy air can put a strain on the filters.
After years in Sacramento, Hernandez says leaving town may be his best solution.
“I’m considering moving by the ocean because, in my case, that’s my only safety,” he said.
Officials say breathing in the smoky air can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Some advice: keep your doors closed and use an air filtration system inside of your home.