Code Orange: Smoke from wildfires in Canada prompt air quality alerts in Delaware Valley

Smoke from a wildfire more than 600 miles away is impacting the Delaware Valley, bringing hazy conditions to the area and prompting air quality alerts. 

In Halifax, Nova Scotia, more than 16,000 people have been forced to evacuate as a wildfire burns. 

Authorities say the fire has burned more than 25,000 acres of land and damaged about 200 homes. 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the wildfires in a tweet, calling the situation "incredibly serious." 

Despite being hundreds of miles away, smoke from the burning wildfires is impacting the Delaware Valley.

Amanda Lee, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, in Mount Holly, New Jersey, explained, "We have a high pressure that’s centered offshore, so the winds around that are blowing from the northeast to the southwest, which is not often the case. More typically we see prevailing winds coming from the south or southwest, so in this scenario, that’s how we’re getting some of the smoke impacts all the way from Nova Scotia."

In Chester County, the West Chester Fire Department is warning about hazy smoke and a burning odor in the air. 

Officials say there is no immediate threat to the area, but code orange air quality alerts have been issued for several counties in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

"We smelt it. You kind of smell a slight tint to the air that didn’t smell comfortable or comforting," Mt. Holly resident Lawrence Wilson stated.

"Wildfires, unfortunately, put a lot of the particles into the air," said Chief Medical Officer of the American Lung Association, Dr. Albert Rizzo. "Those are small enough to be inhaled and go deep into our lungs and leave inflammation in the airways."

Sensitive groups like children, the elderly and those with respiratory conditions should limit time outside due to the smoke particles in the air. 

The American Lung Association is encouraging people to protect themselves with these tips: 

  • Stay indoors - People should avoid breathing smoke, ashes and other pollution in the area.
  • Protect air in your home - Keep doors, windows and fireplace dampers shut with clean air circulating.
  • Monitor symptoms - Higher levels of smoke in some areas can make breathing more difficult. Contact your health provider if you experience symptoms.
  • Take precautions - Extra precautions should be taken for children and teens.
  • Ask for help - Contact the American Lung Association's Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA for questions and resources.