Officials: Burning order, haze in CT tied to western wildfires

An airplane takes off from Danbury Municipal Airport into hazy sky's on Wednesday, July 21, 2021, in Danbury, Conn.

Smoke from massive wildfires burning in the western United States and Canada have once again triggered air quality alerts across large swaths of Connecticut.

The state issued an air quality action day for all of Litchfield, Hartford, Tolland and Windham counties, along with the northern part of Middlesex county. State agencies throughout much of New England have also issued similar warnings.

Connecticut’s warning lasts through 11 p.m. Monday evening, and means fine particles from the wildfire smoke “may approach or exceed unhealthy standards,” according to the bulletin.

In Litchfield County, authorities said they have received complaints of haze and an odor of smoke from residents.

State police out of Troop B in North Canaan said they had received several reports of “smoke and odors of smoke” throughout Litchfield County.

They said those reports are related to smoke produced out west.

Police said anyone who believes they smell smoke from an emergency here in Connecticut should call 911.

Last week, smoke from the fires put the entire state under an air quality alert, and the state issued an advisory recommending people avoid the outdoors, particularly in the western part of the state where the air quality was worse.

The smoke was cleared away by the latter part of the week and into the weekend by a cold front moving down from Canada. However, the smoke was forecast to return this week if the fires continued out west.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the agency in charge of issuing air quality alerts, is forecasting “good to moderate” air quality Monday and Tuesday.

Several cities are forecast to have slightly elevated levels of fine particles – a category that includes smoke – on Tuesday, with the highest levels forecast for Bridgeport, Cornwall, East Hartford, New Haven and Waterbury.

Particulate in the haze can aggravate the respiratory system, and can be especially difficult for older people, those with heart and lung conditions and children, according to DEEP.

In Oregon, the bootleg fire has consumed a staggering swath of land— nearly 409,000 acres as of Sunday, CNN reported – making it the nation’s largest wildfire. The fire has been exacerbated by continued dry weather and an abundance of dry fuel feeding the massive blaze. The weather system created by the fire also led to a tornado on its eastern perimeter, officials confirmed over the weekend.

In British Columbia, more than 250 wildfires are burning, driven by dry weather and above-average temperatures, CBC reported.

With the smoke impacting the Torrington area, the city fire department said the city has suspended any open burning until further notice, “in light of the poor air quality.”

The agency said in a Facebook post Monday they have received reports of “strange burning odors and visible haze,” which are directly tied to the wildfires out west.

“We have responded to numerous calls investigating these conditions this afternoon. We anticipate these conditions to continue for the next day or so,” the post said.

Connecticut Media Group