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Wildfire smoke poses health risks in mountains

A 2013 wildfire in the Linville Gorge wilderness of Pisgah National Forest grew from 40 acres to 100 acres overnight.
A 2013 wildfire in the Linville Gorge wilderness of Pisgah National Forest grew from 40 acres to 100 acres overnight.

State officials issued an air-quality advisory for North Carolina’s foothills and mountains Thursday as smoke from wildfires drifted into the region.

Residents in Alexander, Avery, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, McDowell and Watauga counties could experience unhealthy air the state Division of Air Quality said.

Two wildfires in the Pisgah National Forest are producing heavy smoke that could contain high levels of particle pollution. The fires cover more than 500 acres in remote areas of McDowell County north of Interstate 40.

The fine particles and liquid droplets in smoke are a concern because they can work their way deep into the lungs and hurt breathing.

Thursday’s air pollution forecast for the area says fine-particle levels could exceed the federal standard.

People who are sensitive to air pollution, including the elderly, children and people with heart or respiratory conditions, should reduce heavy exertion outdoors, the division said.

Bruce Henderson: 704-358-5051, @bhender

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