By Velena Jones

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Smoky skies blanketed the Sacramento region as the Dixie Fire continues to spread.

Treelines were camouflaged in grey in Dutch Flat and Alta as residents tried to limit their exposure.

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“This is bad, this is really bad,” explained Sandy Bell.

The air quality in Bell’s neighborhood in Alta is one of the worst. The area is ranked as hazardous for anyone to breathe in, especially those with health conditions like Bell’s husband.

“My husband just got out of the hospital a couple weeks ago from a heart attack, so he is wearing a mask inside the house and outside because he was having trouble breathing,” she said.

Natalie Armstrong from Dutch Flat cut her workday short after spending hours outside in the smoke.

“I was definitely feeling it in my lungs, in my eyes. When I got home, I took a nap because my eyes were so tired from being outside all day,” she explained.

Hazy highways stretched for miles, including in Auburn where the murky air didn’t stop people dining outside Friday night. The air quality however is putting a pause on weekend plans for some.

“I’m not going to go paddle boarding now. I definitely don’t want to expose myself to too much particulates,” explained Steve Weaver.

Sacramento air quality reached unhealthy levels. Despite this, crowds of people celebrated the start of the weekend outside in midtown.

“Normally, we wouldn’t go out with air qualities this bad but there is no ash right now and it’s not too bad, so we are going out for a little bit,” explained Scott Will.

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Air quality throughout the region can bring risks to everyone regardless of health conditions, explained Anthony Wexler,  UC Davis Director of the Air Quality Research Center.

“It can damage the lungs. It can damage the brain, but it is extremely variable from person to person,” said Wexler. “With these high levels, you just want to play it safe. Again, be a couch potato, don’t exercise, stay indoors, if you have to go outside, wear a mask.”

Wexler warns because of the nature of the fire burning homes and cars, the air is more hazardous than a brush fire.

“The health effects are going to be worse because of all the plastics that we have in our homes, the chemicals that we have in our home that all end up in the air,” he said.

According to Wexler, health risks are also determined by how long the smoke lasts and how much time a person is exposed to poor air quality.

To limit your exposure, Wexler suggests using a HEPPA air filter to reduce air pollution and to detect the pollution levels in the house. He also recommends recirculating the air while driving to avoid bringing hazardous air inside your car, avoiding working out, and wearing an N95-grade mask when outside in hazardous conditions.

“We know from many studies that these levels of air pollution kill people and send them to the hospital with serious health conditions, that’s the bottom line,” said Wexler.

Doctors also suggest avoiding vacuuming during wildfires because it can kick up smoke particles inside of your home.

Hoping for blue skies, Bell is thankful it’s only smoke she has to worry about.

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“I think I can deal with this rather than losing a home like some of our friends have,” she explained.

Velena Jones