10/28/2020 -- Ohio River Fire Smoke Reaches NYCSZ

Safe Zone Siren
October 28th, 2020

RED HOOK, NYC SAFE ZONE — On Monday morning, for the first time since the Ohio River fire started in Pennsylvania, residents of the New York City Safe Zone woke up to milky white skies, instead of the classic light blue. In fact, on Sunday evening, social media was abuzz with countless photos of the sun’s “weird appearance” before sunset.

The Ohio River wildfire that started in September has consumed thousands of acres of land in a slowly spreading march southeast across the wilderness of Pennsylvania, creating record-setting lows for air quality and creating short and long-term public health risks for residents of Pennsylvania.

Smoke on Tuesday was thick enough over the Safe Zone that temperatures held in the low-to-mid 40s for much of the day.

Smoke particles are proven to reflect sunlight allowing only certain wavelengths of solar radiation though. Previous volcanic eruptions like Mt. Pinatubo in 1991, spewed enough ash into the atmosphere, that the global average temperature dropped a whole degree for the 15 months that followed.

The breakdown of infrastructure in the post-war US is changing the ways firefighters, meteorologists, and emergency management personnel respond to wildfires this season, hampering teamwork and communication. Local and volunteer firefighting teams have struggled to contain the Ohio River blaze, which has only grown in strength since consuming the ruins of Pittsburgh in mid-september.

Wildfire smoke contains PM2.5 particles which can get deep into lungs, triggering and exacerbating health risks including asthma and heart attacks. Research shows that exposure to smoke increases influenza risks the following winter. Worse, much of the smoke created by the Ohio River fire contains hazardous chemicals burned off of residences, factories, and vehicles consumed in Pittsburgh with growing fears of the fire reaching the defunct Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Plant.

Residents of the Safe Zone are encouraged to wear protective gear such as masks or scarves to help keep out the smoke as the fire conditions in Pennsylvania worsen.

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