06/13/08 — Smokescreen

View Archive


By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on June 13, 2008 1:48 PM

Rose Cole woke up Thursday looking forward to an afternoon road trip to the beach.

She pictured herself driving fast -- windows down, music blaring.

But by 2 p.m., Ms. Cole had only left her apartment once, to swing by Wilber's for some lunch.

"I couldn't even make it to my car without my eyes burning, so the beach will have to wait," she said. "I only came here because I didn't really have any food at home."

A thick haze and "campfire smell" from the east bothered many Wayne County residents Thursday -- the result of drifting smoke from the Pocosin Wildlife Refuge wildfire that has been raging since Sunday.

Some even reported health problems.

Wayne Memorial Hospital public relations officer Amy Cain said "two or three" people came into the Emergency Department because of the smoke, each noting a history of asthma.

"When that happens, obviously once they reach the E.D., they come for a nebulizer treatment," Ms. Cain said. "Other than that, there is not a whole lot that can be done for them."

For asthmatics, the most important thing to do is stay indoors and have an inhaler handy, Ms. Cain said.

The hospital has also responded to the climate in other ways. Patients and visitors have been provided with masks while on campus, she added.

"It makes it a little bit easier for them to breathe," she explained. "It's not a huge difference, but it makes it a little bit more comfortable."

And as an employer, she said, the hospital's employee health office has made a conscious effort to assist workers who might have been exposed to the outdoors. Staff required to move from building to building on campus were advised to monitor and minimize trips outside.

Trey Lawson covered his nose and mouth with a T-shirt to prevent inhaling air he suspected was "at least a little toxic," while he mowed a lawn in Mimosa Park.

"When you do yards, you don't have much of a choice but to come to work," he said. "But today ain't fun."

He said he could "taste" the wildfire.

"You can taste that bitterness," he said. "Like sitting next to a campfire."

The smoke from the Pocosin Wildlife Refuge wildfire was still lingering over Goldsboro and Wayne County Thursday night as the band, Liquid Pleasure, cranked up for Center Street Jam, but the smoggy haze wasn't enough to keep people away.

"It's not as bad as it was," Jimmy Perkins said. "Really the smoke's cleared up a lot from what it was earlier. It was bad this (Thursday) morning."

And for Melinda Moore, the draw of the beach music was stronger than the smell.

"It's not as bad as it was," she said. "But really, I'd have been out here anyway. I just like to socialize and I love beach music."