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Smoke from Heritage Fire impacting Helendale, Barstow area communities

BARSTOW, Calif. ( — The Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District (MDAQMD) is advising of unhealthy air quality Tuesday, March 15, 2022, and potentially continuing into the evening due to wildfire smoke impacts. 

This advisory is in effect for Helendale/Silver Lakes and communities to the immediate north including Barstow and the surrounding area.

MDAQMD officials said smoke is blowing northeast from the Heritage fire, which ignited on Monday, March 14 north of Oro Grande near National Trails Highway.

According to the agency, smoke from the incident settled overnight in communities to the north. “Low-cost particulate sensors at ground-level were showing increasing levels of PM10 and PM2.5, the pollutant found in wildfire smoke, in the ambient air.”

Levels of PM2.5 may continue to increase depending on fire containment and shifting winds.

(School officials in affected communities may consider altering plans to reduce students’ exposure to wildfire smoke. This graphic shows recommendations for outdoor activity related to varying levels of air pollution.)

Increasing levels of smoke can affect everyone, but it’s particularly unhealthy for those with heart and respiratory illnesses, children, seniors and active adults.
In any area impacted by poor air quality including smoke:

  • everyone should consider avoiding any vigorous outdoor or indoor exertion;
  • people with respiratory or heart disease, older adults, and children should consider remaining indoors;
  • keep windows and doors closed;
  • run your air conditioner if you have one – recirculation function is ideal;
  • avoid using a swamp cooler or whole-house fan to prevent bringing outdoor pollutants inside.


As of 11:40 am Tuesday morning, the latest mapping flight shows the fire is at 500 acres. Containment increased proportionally and remains at 10%.

On Tuesday morning the San Bernardino County Fire Department said the fire burned actively well past midnight with numerous wind shifts until the pre-dawn hours before finally settling down.

The active burning period saw continued forward progress along with heavy fuels burning within the interior all the way back toward the heel of the incident.

Firefighters are being reinforced with new personnel this morning. Three strike teams of engines, one dozer, and a hand crew from County Fire will be supported by additional resources from CalFire and Victorville Fire Department.

Objectives today include the extension and improvement of existing containment lines and assessing for any structure damage or loss. Smoke will continue to be visible throughout the high desert with a possible increase in fire activity as the day continues to warm.

An evacuation warning remains in place for residences from Melrose Avenue south to Roy Rogers Drive and between Bryman Road and the Mojave river bottom. Sporadic power outages exist due to damage to numerous utility poles and power lines.

No injuries to civilians or firefighters have been reported. The cause of the fire remains under investigation by County Fire’s Office of the Fire Marshal.

Smoke from heritage fire
(Hugo C. Valdez,

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