With the River and Dexter fires to the south, the Beckwourth Complex to the north east and the Dixie Fire to the north, smoke will settle into the area overnight. The nightly inversion, where colder air and smoke particles sink lower, brings a superfluous reminder that fire season is truly here.

Being woken up by the smell of smoke is a familiar experience for most Foothill residents. From the “new normal,” to “unprecedented,” fire season is a part of life, so is preparing for wildfire.

The smoke forecast for the area, courtesy of NWS.

The smoke forecast for the state, courtesy of NWS.

Any plume of smoke is, of course, a cause for concern. But, what if you only smell smoke? Here are a few tips:

First, look around

If you smell smoke, first make sure you are safe. Check your location for any visible smoke or flames. Step outside, look around the immediate vicinity. Do you see flames or smoke billowing nearby? Leave the area and call 911. Report what you see, give a precise location i.e. street address and a cross street. Especially if you are calling from a cell phone, make sure you give the dispatcher your city and address. If you see a column of smoke or flames while driving and you don’t see first responders on scene, pull over to a safe area before calling.

Use common sense

During business hours, call your local fire department or CAL FIRE or the Forest Service if you are concerned about an unusual smoke buildup. Do not call 911 if you cannot see a column or flames, it could overwhelm the system and cause emergency calls to have a delayed response.

During fire season, smoke is often a part of daily life. In the early morning hours, only a faint odor and a light haze may be noticeable. As the day goes by, temperatures heat up and the trapped smoke will start to rise, intensifying the smell and reducing visibility.

At night, a breeze can have smoke waft into your house, apply the same rules as above. Look around you, step outside and assess the situation.

More tips here: Explainer: I see smoke – now what?