Wildfire smoke intensifies across the Red River Valley
FARGO, N.D. (KVRR) – Heavy smoke and haze fill the Red River Valley as Canadian wildfires continue to burn.
“Well, it’s pretty smoky, and I can feel it,” said Dawn of Sauk Centre who is visiting Moorhead. “My eyes burn. I kind of have a little cough. It’s very uncomfortable.”
Uncomfortable and according to the U.S. Air Quality Index, the air in the Red River Valley is “very unhealthy.”
“Various weather patterns have been blowing the smoke to different places at different times,” explained Jim Semerad, director of the Division of Air Quality at the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality. “In Fargo, for example, overnight last night wasn’t too bad but this morning, it increased rapidly and got to the point where we’re watching it very, very carefully.”
Medical professionals recommend people limit their time outdoors. Especially those with chronic health conditions like asthma or heart disease.
“People who do not have chronic lung or heart issues still should be vigilant of being outside, so really look, kind of use common sense. If it’s really smoky outside, try to do activities inside and limit those outside activities,” said Sanford Health Nurse Practitioner Autumn Nelson.
One dad in Moorhead says even his infant at home is feeling the impact of the smoke.
“We actually went out to get an air purifier for inside our house,” said Zachary Holm. “We have an eight-month-old baby, so we thought it’d be a good idea to purify the air so she can breathe a little better. It seems to be irritating her eyes a little bit. She’s rubbing her eyes a lot.”
“We did bring masks in case we needed to wear them. I know my neighbor at home is wearing one because she’s having issues with her lungs now because of the smoke,” Dawn said.
It’s hard to tell exactly how long the smoke and haze will last in the area, but even when temporary relief comes, those with the National Weather Service in Grand Forks anticipate this may be an ongoing issue.
“Sometimes it takes a change in season, a change in large-scale patterns to get things wet and cold enough to where the fires eventually just go out, and that’s probably what it’s going to take. As long as those fires are ongoing, any time we have northerly flow, we’re probably going to see this smoke come right back into the valley,” explained Grand Forks National Weather Service Lead Meteorologist Daniel Robinson.
Those at the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality encourage people to stay updated on the air quality by getting real-time updates online.
You can do so by visiting www.airnow.gov.