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Western wildfire smoke moves east, impacts air quality in W.Va.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Smoke from western wildfires is moving across the country and impacting air quality in West Virginia.

The National Weather Service in Charleston reported hazy skies from the smoke-filled air Wednesday morning.

“Smoke is coming in the upper levels of the atmosphere, so that’s why we can see it, but not smell it that much,” NWS Meteorologist Andy Roache told MetroNews.

While the smoke tends to stay high in the atmosphere, Roache warned people with severe asthma or other respiratory problems could be affected due to the poor air quality.

“It’s unhealthy for sensitive groups like the elderly, the sick and the children,” Roache said.

Roache said those groups should avoid strenuous outdoor activities at this time.

“Like walking instead of running, so you don’t as breathe as hard as you would,” he said.

Haze also hung over eastern cities like New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania as strong winds blew smoke from California and Oregon where firefighters are working to contain fire lines.

The nation’s largest wildfire, Oregon’s Bootleg Fire, grew to 616 square miles which is just over half the size of Rhode Island. Fires also burned on both sides of California’s Sierra Nevada, Washington state and other areas of the West.

Roache said the lingering smoke is becoming more common year after year as drought conditions persist.

“It probably happens every year since we have fires every year, but it depends on the atmosphere,” he said.

The National Weather Service said air quality will improve and the smoke will likely clear out by Thursday.

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