Kansas fires cause hazy skies in Lincoln
Kansas ranchers burn more than 2 million acres of tall grass prairie every year and with the right wind, the smoke ends up in Lincoln.
Mayor Chris Beutler plans to send letters to officials in Kansas explaining the problem with smoke and air quality resulting from this year's round of prescribed burns.
"Mayor Beutler really feels like we need to stand up for our citizens and let Kansas know what the impact has been," said Rick Hoppe with the Mayor's office. "We'd like to think our neighbors will work with us to change a situation that's becoming more difficult."
Governor Pete Ricketts says the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality has reached out to Kansas, and received a positive response.
Kansas ranchers burn more than 2 million acres of tall grass prairie every year. With the right wind, the smoke ends up in Lincoln.
"We had a lot of smoke in the air; you could smell the fires as well. I think the grass fires have a very distinct smell verses wood fires," Chris Schroeder, supervisor of the Air Quality Program, said.
Wednesday morning smog filled the skies causing unhealthy conditions. Those with asthma, lung disease, other respiratory conditions, or heart disease are more likely to feel the affects; along with older adults and children.
"It can really exasperate those things, because it irritates the airways and can generate inflammation and an inflammatory response in the lungs. So that can cause problems such as flare ups of those diseases, that can result in needing to seek medical care or even hospitalization," said Dr. Kevin Reichmuth.
Lincoln public schools canceled all outdoor activities Wednesday morning, but as the air quality improved older students returned to their regular schedules.
The hospitals have seen an increase in patients the last couple of days because of the smoke.
"We saw a little bit of an uptick in our patients with problems," said Dr. Reichmuth.
The Lincoln–Lancaster County Health Department monitors the air quality 24 hours a day. At the beginning of the day Lincoln was in the red zone, meaning unhealthy for everyone to be outside. By Wednesday afternoon the capitol city was in the yellow zone or at a moderate level.
LLCHD has updates at https://www.airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=airnow.local_city&mapcenter=0&cityid=537