Distant wildfires blanket region in smoke

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Hazy sunset caused by distant wildfires
Photo courtesy/George Fortier, Jr.

WESTBOROUGH – Individuals across the region turned their eyes and cameras to the sky last week as a series of hazy days made for brilliant sunsets.

Westborough’s George Fortier, Jr. was one of those photographers, catching the horizon glowing orange over Sandra Pond the same day that the worst of the haze settled in local skies. 

The strange phenomenon was the result of wildfire smoke that had been pumped into the atmosphere by fires on the West Coast and in Canada. 

Smoke clouded daytime views and had fire departments scrambling at times as they responded to calls from confused residents reporting the smell of acrid smoke. 

“Where’s the fire?” the Westborough Fire Department wrote on Facebook on July 26. “We have received numerous calls today about the haze and smell of smoke all throughout the town… On the bright side, at least it’s not raining.”

While the smoke was a nuisance for many, it was outright hazardous for others. 

The state Department of Environmental Protection issued an air quality warning on July 26, advising everyone in affected areas to avoid outdoor activity. Those in what the state describes as “sensitive groups,” including those with asthma, were told to keep “quick relief medicine handy.”

Online, several people in community Facebook groups across the region reported trouble breathing. Others described challenges caring for loved ones with medical conditions that were being exacerbated by the smoky air.

Clearer skies returned later in the week as the smoke and haze drifted into the Atlantic Ocean.

 

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