CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Smoke from western wildfires drifted into the Mountain State Tuesday, blocking sunshine in Charleston and causing some to think twice about going outside.
The West Virginia Emergency Management Agency said the hazy skies were leading to increased 911 calls in some parts of the state, especially up north where the smoky haze was thicker.
As fires burn in parts of Oregon and near the Manitoba-Ontario border in Canada, their smoke is making the 1,000-plus mile journey southeast.
“It’s hard to believe that the forest fires are so bad on the western part of the United States that we’re smelling the smoke here,” said Kanawha Emergency Management director C.W. Sigman.
The air quality in Charleston was “moderate” Tuesday according to airnow.gov.
Sigman says it’s rare for such a wide area to have residual smoke like this so early on in the year.
He says this usually happens in the fall when nearby wildfires start, not more than a thousand miles away.
“If you pay attention to it you can actually smell the smoke in the atmosphere; it’s not strong, but you can smell it and I’m sure it can be irritating to some folks,” he said.
This means people who are obese, smoke, have asthma, bronchitis, or suffer from allergies may be affected.
“If someone has allergies, for instance, they are already at a significantly increased risk of developing asthma symptoms so if they have a trigger like bad air pollution that could be the trigger that puts them over the edge,” said allergist Dr. James Clark.
“Coughing, wheezing, that could be an indication that there’s some asthma going on,” he said.
Clark and Sigman have the following recommendations to avoid exacerbating any respiratory conditions these next few days:
-Change your AC filter and shut off the outside air intake
-Don’t add to the problem by burning candles
-Wash your clothing to get the pollen and smoke off when coming in from the outdoors.