MONTGOMERY COUNTY — A significant increase in 9-1-1 calls has been reported throughout Montgomery County due to the presence of smoke, a haze, and a general burning smell enveloping the area, Your Content has learned.
According to the US National Weather Service Philadelphia/Mount Holly, the unusual conditions are a result of smoke drift from wildfires currently blazing in Canada.
In an emergency release, county officials are urging residents to use their discretion when dialing 9-1-1 to report the smoke or burning odors. While it’s essential to avoid flooding the emergency line with calls related to these conditions, authorities acknowledge that the unfamiliar situation might make it difficult for individuals to discern potential local fire risks from the smoke emanating from the wildfires.
Officials have stated, “If you are unsure of whether or not you need the fire department to respond, as always, we encourage you to call or text 9-1-1.” As a safety measure, this guideline ensures that residents receive the appropriate help if a genuine fire threat arises amidst the ongoing conditions.
The influx of smoke into Montgomery County has prompted an Air Quality Alert from the National Weather Service. Residents, particularly those with respiratory conditions, are encouraged to remain indoors, limit strenuous outdoor activities, and keep windows and doors closed to reduce smoke exposure.
County authorities are closely monitoring the situation and liaising with the National Weather Service. They recommend that residents stay informed about the ongoing situation by checking updates regarding the Air Quality Alert issued by the National Weather Service.
This incident underscores the far-reaching impacts of wildfires, even those occurring hundreds of miles away. As the Canadian wildfires continue to rage, their effects are being felt across borders, highlighting the necessity for robust wildfire management and prevention strategies.
Title: “Unprecedented Wildfires Rage in Canada, Poses Air Quality Concerns in the US”
As of Tuesday evening, Canada grapples with a staggering 414 wildfires, with the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre confirming 239 of them as “out of control.” The country is witnessing one of the most severe beginnings to its wildfire season in history, with over 6.7 million acres having been scorched already in 2023, as per recent federal reports.
In the province of Quebec, approximately 14,000 residents have been compelled to evacuate due to the relentless fires. CBC News reports that more than 150 wildfires continue to ravage the area. Meanwhile, in Nova Scotia located further to the east, one wildfire has been contained, yet another expansive blaze stretching almost 100 square miles remains uncontrolled, according to The Associated Press.
However, the United States isn’t immune to the escalating wildfire conditions. The National Weather Service’s storm prediction center cautioned on Tuesday about the potential for “dry thunderstorms,” a frequent cause of wildfires, in the Mid-Atlantic region. Additionally, strong wind conditions might exacerbate these fires, making them challenging to manage.
Smoke from the Canadian wildfires has been traversing across the northeastern US and descending over the Midwest in recent days. Authorities have issued alerts across these regions, cautioning against increased air pollution, particularly for “sensitive groups” including children, older adults, and individuals with asthma and other pre-existing respiratory conditions.
Air pollution resulting from wildfire smoke is becoming a significant and worsening health hazard in the US. Research conducted by Stanford University revealed that the number of individuals encountering at least one day of poor air quality due to smoke surged 27-fold over the past decade.
Air quality researchers express particular concern over minuscule particles in the smoke that are less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, equivalent to approximately 4% of an average human hair’s diameter. Brett Palm, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, emphasizes the health risks associated with these tiny particles. “These are the particles that are small enough to breathe in and can cause cardiovascular issues,” he said.
Exposure to this type of pollution can trigger inflammation and impair the immune system, especially when the microscopic particles infiltrate the lungs and enter the bloodstream. The risk of developing asthma, lung cancer, or other chronic lung diseases may rise due to particulate pollution, especially in susceptible groups such as older people, pregnant individuals, infants, and children.
Furthermore, wildfire smoke exposure could potentially heighten the risk of respiratory disease, with links found between increased cases of Covid-19, influenza, and wildfire smoke.
To help monitor air quality, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency collaborates with partner agencies like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA to maintain an interactive map named AirNow. This tool allows users to identify active fire locations and assess local air quality conditions and associated risks.