Taft and the entire Westside were blanketed under a thick pall of smoke Tuesday afternoon and evening, prompting numerous complaints to the Taft Midway Driller and to the newspaper's Facebook page.
The Kern County Fire Station in Taft also received a lot of calls from people concerned that there was major fire and about health concerns.The smoke started drifting over the area in early afternoon and gradually thickened.
By 5 p.m., smoke covered the skies and obscured the horizon. It finally cleared up overnight.
There were several possible reasons given for all the smoke:
•A Kern County Fire Department spokesman said firefighters responded to a fire in a large pile of almond hulls in the Shafter area.
•The same spokesman said there were burn jobs in northwestern Kern County in the Lost Hills area.
That was supported by several posts to the Taft Midway Driller Facebook page.
•The Driller has also received an unconfirmed report of a prescribed burn in the Kern National Wildlife Refuge in northern Kern County.
The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District only received a couple of calls, officials said.
A staff member in Bakersfield said she received one complaint about the smoke in Taft.
Jamie Holt, a spokeswoman for the District in Fresno, did confirm that a couple of reports were received.
"We received a few calls and complaints about burning and dust from harvesting," Holt said Wednesday afternoon. "We did investigate and we didn't find any violations."