06/12/08 — Wildfire smoke drifting west

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Wildfire smoke drifting west

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on June 12, 2008 1:48 PM

With smoke beginning to drift inland from the 39,800-acre wildfire in the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge Wednesday, Wayne County found itself enveloped in a hazy smog that National Weather Service officials expect to linger throughout today.

Adding to the smoke Wednesday also may have been fires at Foss Salvage Yard in LaGrange and those set by area farmers to burn off hay field remnants.

"The majority of what the citizen's saw yesterday, though, was based on the Washington, Hyde, Tyrell county fire," said county Emergency Manag-ement Director Joe Gurley this morning. "We're getting calls from people inquiring about the smoke."

But so far, it doesn't seem to be causing many serious health problems, Gurley said.

Brandon Dunstan of the National Weather Service in Raleigh said that as the day wears on today and the sun shines, visibility should improve.

For information on visibility condition, commuters can call either 511 for road information, visit www.ncdot.org/traffictravel, or call their local Highway Patrol or county emergency offices.

Perhaps most important, though, are the recommendations from health officials that the elderly, the very young and anyone with a breathing problem should stay indoors today.

"Certainly people with COPD -- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease -- or emphysema or asthma want to stay out of the smoke as much as possible because it can exacerbate their condition," said Dr. Clark Gaither of Goldsboro Family Physicians and medical director for WATCH.

Compounding the smoke's effects will be the heat and any lingering allergy issues.

with asthmatic conditions -- even if undiagnosed -- likely will find their airways especially irritated today. One symptom may be excessive wheezing.