Wilmington, NY – Visitors to the Adirondack Park would normally drive up the Veterans Memorial Highway at Whiteface Mountain to get a breathtaking view of the Adirondacks, but the smoke from the Canadian wildfires is affecting both the air quality and the views at the high peaks.
“Definitely one of the worst days I’ve seen up here. I mean, you can barely see Lake Placid over here and that’s less than 5 miles away in visibility, and on a normal day you can see upwards of 70 miles. We can see Montreal. Some days we can see Mt. Washington over in New Hampshire,” said Whiteface Summit Staff Pat Bixler.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said that people should try to avoid being outside when the air quality index is high due to the fine particulate matter from the forest fires in the air.
“You can probably experience impacts to your eyes, your nose, your throat. It’s more irritating to breathe if you’re in an unhealthy population with medical conditions such as asthma or heart disease,” said Seggos.
The Air Quality Index reached as high as 166 in Wilmington on Tuesday, and the New York State Department of Health says to monitor symptoms while outside.
“Go slow. Monitor your own symptomatology. Be a guide for yourself and realize that these are unusual circumstances. If you are having symptoms, go inside,” said New York State Department of Health spokesperson Gary Ginsberg.
Bixler said that he has not felt any symptoms of being outside and none of the guests have mentioned feeling any symptoms, but they have definitely noticed the unusual air.
“They have definitely noticed the smoke in the air, so they’ve been asking us what’s going on. What we’re seeing here. Where it’s coming from,” said Bixler.
Seggos said the last time the DEC had an air quality advisory of this magnitude was back in 2002. The cause of the advisory then was also wildfires in Canada.
Seggos also said the air quality will be affected as long as the wildfires in Canada continue to burn, and the DEC has sent a team up to Canada to help them fight the flames.