A mulch fire in Thermal causing air quality concerns prompted the Coachella Valley Unified School District to cancel classes at all of its 22 campuses for a third day.

The CVUSD implemented a district-wide closure Friday and Monday because of the smoke hazards posed by the blaze near the intersection of Avenue 66 and Martinez Road. Officials said schools will remain shut down Tuesday for the same reason.

“Our understanding is that the fire will shortly be fully contained, and we look forward to returning to school,” according to a district statement. “We thank everyone for their continued understanding and support.”

The CVUSD closure decision came shortly after the South Coast Air Quality Management District renewed its Smoke Advisory for the area.

“The AQMD’s monitors in Thermal and Mecca … have been showing PM2.5 concentrations in the unhealthy to very unhealthy AQI levels at times since Sunday evening,” according to an agency statement. “Wind directions will be from the west and northwest on Tuesday afternoon. This will push smoke … to the southeast toward Oasis, Mecca and the Salton Sea.”

“Overall, meteorological conditions may bring smoke and ash into portions of the Coachella Valley,” the AQMD stated. “Air quality may reach unhealthy for sensitive groups or higher in areas directly impacted by smoke.”

On Thursday, 14 students from Desert Mirage High School were taken to a hospital with respiratory problems due to the smoke, and several schools were evacuated. Classes were canceled district-wide on Friday.

The 20-acre fire at the Sun Valley Recycling Center has been burning since Oct. 14. Riverside County firefighters were making progress knocking down the blaze, which is not threatening any structures.

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