Heavy smoke fills the Twin Cities due to northern wildfires

- You could see it. You could smell it. You could even taste it. Smoke, sometimes quite thick, entered the skies of the Twin Cities over the weekend. 

The thickest smoke emerged between Friday night and Saturday morning, and cast a brown haze over the metro area. Some residents called 911, suspecting a nearby fire. The culprit was a Minnesota wildfire, burning in the Paul Bunyan Forest south of Bemidji. The smoke triggered the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to issue a “health alert” that remained in effect until Saturday evening.

More haze arrived on Sunday, but stayed higher in the atmosphere, reducing health risks. However, this time, wildfires in Canada were the source.

The last two years included some of the worst days of air quality in a decade. On July 6, 2015, Canadian wildfires caused similar air quality conditions.

“That’s two times in the last two years we’ve had some of the highest readings recorded by the [Minnesota Pollution Control Agency]. It’s concerning because the Canadian wildfire season is occurring, and is probably going to keep going for another month or two,” Daniel Dix, a meteorologist at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, told Fox 9.

Despite some downpours, the lack of steady, regular rain, led to the dry conditions, according to Ian Leonard, chief meteorologist for Fox 9. And the risk of more wildfires remains.

A fire in the Iron Range, called the Skibo Fire, has already charred 1,000 acres, and is only 12-percent contained. Currently, the smoke is staying north of the metro area.

Smoky skies are dangerous for people with heart and lung issues. The state has a website with updated information on air quality: https://www.beairawaremn.org

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