State air quality officials issue health notice for portions of western North Carolina


State air quality officials have issued an advisory for air pollution in western North Carolina on Tuesday as smoke from the Dobson Knob wildfire in McDowell County impacts the region.

The Dobson Knob wildfire started Sunday and had grown to about 300 acres by Tuesday morning. Smoke from fires can contain high levels of air pollution. Residents throughout the area could be exposed to Code Orange (unhealthy for sensitive groups) levels of particle pollution through Tuesday evening. Particle pollution consists of extremely small particles that can be harmful to breathe. 

The state Division of Air Quality’s monitor in Spruce Pine measured elevated readings overnight Monday into Tuesday morning.

“Citizens are urged to be aware of air quality in their area, as conditions can vary widely,” said Mike Abraczinskas, director of the division. “Folks in northern McDowell, northern Burke, southern Mitchell and southern Avery counties will be the areas most impacted today. If you are sensitive to air pollution and smell smoke, you should limit outdoor exertion today.”

Elevated levels of particle pollution can impair breathing and aggravate symptoms in people with respiratory problems, and irritate the lungs in healthy individuals. People with chronic lung ailments and children should reduce physical exertion and outdoor activity. More information regarding the forecasts and health effects can be found on the Division of Air Quality’s website at

More information about the Dobson Knob fire can be found at: 

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