USA — Hazy smoke from a long-smoldering fire in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge plagued the Lowcountry on Thursday.
“It’s not exactly the best kind of environment for anyone, whether you are healthy or not,” said Jim Beasley, spokesman for the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.
On Thursday, DHEC advised people with breathing-related health problems to stay indoors because of the smoke, which was described as a mixture of gases and fine particles from burning trees and other plants. It can irritate the eyes and respiratory systems as well as worsen chronic heart and lung diseases, the agency said.
Eastern and southern parts of the state have been affected several times recently by the smoke.
For those with respiratory problems, DHEC recommends keeping windows and doors closed and running the air conditioner but keeping the fresh-air intake closed.
The National Weather Service urged motorists Thursday to drive with extreme care and to be alert for sudden changes in visibility.
“We should see some relief over the next couple of days,” said Vern Brown, Weather Service forecaster.
Westerly and southwesterly winds have blown the smoke this way, and it gets blown back over land because of the sea breeze, Brown said.
In late April, lightning started the fire, which has consumed nearly 300,000 acres in the refuge, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“Until we have heavy rainfall, we can expect the fire to continue burning in the swamp,” the agency said.