Over the last week, a large wildfire in California consumed tens of thousands of acres, and smoke and ash billowed into adjacent cities, including Sparks, which is the location of Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada.
Tesla has taken precautions to keep staff members as far away from the Mosquito Fire’s smoke as possible, but the corporation refrained from laying off staff members.
Tesla alerted workers at the site that the building’s heating, ventilation, and cooling (HVAC) system was switched to a “recirculation mode to minimise the amount of outside air brought into the factory,” according to an internal memo shared by CNBC.
According to the U.S. Air Quality Index, the area around the Tesla site had “unhealthy” to “very unhealthy” air quality on Thursday and Friday with about 57 micrograms of fine particulate matter per cubic metre of air.
People of all ages are recommended to seriously limit outside activities when the air quality is so bad and to use a mask outside to filter smoke and other pollutants. In order to keep pollutants outside their homes and places of business, they are also encouraged to keep their windows closed.
Over the past year, the HVAC filters at the Nevada Gigafactory have been upgraded to a MERV 13 level or higher in order to catch wildfire particulates. Tesla informed staff that these filters have been replaced more frequently this year and that this trend should continue given the hazy circumstances.
Last year, the area was also afflicted by wildfires and air pollution. For instance, the Caldor Fire in California, which burnt more than 220,000 acres in 2021, destroyed homes and other land while also causing dangerous air quality in the region, including in Nevada.
“Climate change, mostly caused by the combustion of fossil fuels, is increasing the frequency and severity of wildfires not only in California but also throughout the world,” claims the California Air Resources Board (CARB).
This week, employees who frequently visit or are stationed in outside locations were advised to pick up N95 masks from a Gigafactory office and kept informed of air quality conditions.
According to the CalFire website, the Mosquito Fire was 20% contained as of late Friday. Cooler weather was predicted for the weekend, which was supposed to help firefighters put out the flames.