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Bass River fire smoke causes air quality alerts in N.J., Del.

Tracking smoke from Allen Road fire in N.J. state forest
Tracking smoke from Allen Road fire in N.J. state forest 02:17

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Smoke from the Allen Road fire in New Jersey's Bass River State Forest is once again leading to air quality alerts around our region Friday.

The fire has grown to about 5,000 acres and was 50% contained as of Thursday night. It's in the southeast corner of Burlington County not far from the Jersey Shore.

The smoke from the fire closed a stretch of the Garden State Parkway for a few hours Friday morning.

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Why is air quality bad today? Where is the smoke coming from?

Wind has been carrying smoke from the Allen Road fire to the south and west into Cape May County, Cumberland County, Salem County and into Delaware.

Air around the fire is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, according to Airnow's smoke map. Airnow is an air tracker run by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency.

This photo shows a road near the fire scene early Friday.

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When CBS News Philadelphia's Ross DiMattei was en route to the scene Friday morning, visibility was low, and at times as little as five feet.

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Winds will be variable Friday but the smoke will mostly keep carrying to the south and west.

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On Saturday, we could still see some smoke traveling in that direction.

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Health impacts of smoke, low air quality

Anyone closest to the fire where the smoke is thickest will be at risk for respiratory issues, meteorologist Tammie Souza reports.

If you're in an area where air quality has decreased due to the smoke, you may experience headaches, difficulty breathing, fatigue or irritated eyes, sinuses and lungs.

Members of sensitive groups who are downwind of the smoke should limit their time outdoors and avoid strenuous outdoor activity.

Virtua Health and the American Lung Association say anyone near wildfire smoke should close their windows and turn on the air conditioning.

"The smoke is unhealthy for everyone, and it's especially dangerous for people with underlying respiratory diseases," Virtua pulmonologist Dr. Eric Sztejman said in a statement. "People can experience lung irritation, coughing, and trouble breathing. People may also experience stinging in their eyes and a scratchy throat."

Smoke particles can also trigger asthma attacks, heart attacks and strokes.

Wearing masks, even an N95, may not provide enough protection against the smoke.

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