Code Red air quality in Asheville as wildfire smoke blankets the mountains

On Tuesday, the air quality was Code Red, and the same is forecast for Wednesday. Code Red means the air is classified as unhealthy. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

The air quality was Code Red on Tuesday, and the same is forecast for Wednesday. Code Red means the air is classified as unhealthy.

In conditions like this, health experts recommend people stay inside when possible and to not exert themselves outside.

RELATED | Click here to learn the air quality for your area

Smoke made it difficult to see the mountains on Tuesday, and you could only see the outlines of buildings downtown.

There is one classification above Code Red, which is Code Purple. One person downtown said it was the worst air he'd ever breathed in Asheville.

"No, and I'm a smoker. I have never ever seen it this bad, and I was raised in Asheville," Warren James said.

"It doesn't feel safe, but I don't think it's anything like the people who are actually living right at the fires. So, it's not safe for me to be out because I have respiratory issues," Jacquelyn Hallum said.

She was on the way to buy an N95 mask, which is what is recommended.

Health experts say a regular surgical mask won't block harmful particles in Code Red air.

According to the National Forest Service:

The far western communities in North Carolina (Robbinsville, Franklin, Sylva and Waynesville) are experiencing widespread smoke from the Rock Mountain wildfire in NE Georgia, as well as from residual smoldering from the "Nantahala Branch" fires, including Tellico, Boteler, Dick's Creek, Boteler, and Maple Springs.
The Pinnacle Mountain Fire is causing smoke impacts well into North Carolina, including Transylvania, Henderson and Buncombe Counties. The Clear Creek Fire continues to impact McDowell County and areas north into Yancey and Mitchell Counties.

Learn more about the Air Quality Index:

Air Quality Color Guide by News 13 WLOS on Scribd

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