Smoke from fires triggers air quality alert | News, Sports, Jobs

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An air quality alert was scheduled to remain in place until this morning due to drifting smoke from the wildfires. Photo of PJ by Dennis Phillips

An air quality alert was scheduled to remain in place for western New York until this morning due to drifting smoke from wildfires in Canada and the western part of the United States.

The air health advisory is from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

“When pollution levels are high, the New York State Department of Health recommends that individuals consider limiting strenuous physical activity outdoors to reduce the risk of adverse health effects.” the National Weather Service noted. “People who may be particularly sensitive to the effects of high levels of pollutants include the very young and those with pre-existing breathing problems such as asthma or heart disease. Those with symptoms should consider seeing their personal physician.

The 569 square mile Bootleg Fire in Oregon burns 300 miles southeast of Portland in and around the Fremont-Winema National Forest, a vast expanse of old growth forests, lakes, and wildlife refuges.

Evacuations and property losses have been minimal compared to much smaller fires in densely populated areas of California.

The Bootleg Fire was one of many fires that burned in a dozen states, most of them in the western United States.

Sixteen large, uncontrolled fires burned down in the states of Oregon and Washington alone on Monday.

Extremely dry conditions and heat waves linked to climate change have made forest fires more difficult to fight. Climate change has made the west much hotter and drier over the past 30 years and will continue to make weather more extreme and forest fires more frequent and destructive.

In neighboring Warren County, there was noticeable haze on Tuesday.

“The hazy aspect of the day today comes from the smoke of the forest fires” meteorologist Steve Travis said. “The winds come out of these areas bringing smoke to our corner of the woods.”

The smoke is weaker in the atmosphere than usual, he said. Along with the smoke are air quality alerts for large areas of Pennsylvania.

People with breathing problems are advised to be extra careful as long as the air remains hazy. “It can cause problems for people with asthma and other lung problems,” Travis said.

“Limit strenuous outdoor activities, especially if you have asthma and the smoke drops lower. “

Brian Ferry in Warren and The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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