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 Wednesday as smoke from the Dobson Knob wildfire in McDowell County is expected to impact the surrounding area.

The Dobson Knob wildfire started Sunday and had grown to about 550 acres by Tuesday afternoon. Earlier today, state air quality officials issued a similar air quality advisory due to the fire in western North Carolina. However, winds are expected to reverse direction tonight as a frontal boundary moves through the area, and this is expected to bring smoke southward from the fire and potentially impact areas that have not yet observed smoke from this fire.

“Citizens should be aware of air quality in their area, as conditions will change with the wind shift,” said Elliot Tardif, a meteorologist with the division. “We are expecting McDowell, western Burke, and northern Rutherford counties to be the areas most impacted on Wednesday. If you are sensitive to air pollution and smell smoke, you should limit outdoor exertion.”

Smoke from fires can contain high levels of air pollution. Residents near and downwind of the fire could be exposed to Code Orange (unhealthy for sensitive groups) levels of particle pollution tomorrow. Particle pollution consists of extremely small particles that can be harmful to breathe. 

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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