Students and faculty from the Coachella Valley Unified School District will be returning to class Friday after being closed for a week due to the ongoing Martinez fire in Thermal.
The decision to have students and faculty resume classes comes after the EPA and other agencies conducted several tests and determined there were no “hazardous chemicals” in the air.
“It’s within normal ranges for outdoor standards. There is smoke there and that smoke is going to remain there probably for a couple weeks,” said Robyn Broyles, Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Palmitas Elementary School, Toro Canyon Middle School and Desert Mirage High School were all under emergency evacuation last week after several students were taken to the hospital with respiratory issues caused by the smoke. The fire at the Sun Valley Recycling Center has been burning for nearly two weeks now.
With smoke still in the air, students and faculty will be indoors on campus to minimize exposure. We’re also told CVUSD, the EPA and other agencies will be keeping an eye on air quality conditions as the fire continues to burn.
As of Thursday, the Bureau of Indian Affairs reported the Martinez Fire at 50% containment. The agency says the fire is “smoldering,” with the winds occasionally stirring up some active flames. The burning mulch piles about 12-15 feet tall, spread across an area the size of 31 football fields. Crews are working hard to disperse and spread those mulch piles with the goal of ultimately cooling and extinguishing any smoldering material.
News Channel 3 will be on campus with students and faculty returning Friday morning.