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NJ wildfire smoke adds to concerns about air quality

Smoke from New Jersey and Canada wildfires prompt air quality concerns
Smoke from New Jersey and Canada wildfires prompt air quality concerns 02:10

FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBS) -- The haze produced by the wildfires in Canada promoted air quality warnings in Pennsylvania and New Jersey Wednesday. But it's not just the Canada wildfires that have made a tough few days for some New Jerseyans.


In Gloucester County's Franklin Township, the wildfire that's consuming the minds of families is in the White Oaks Wildlife Management Area. It's where firefighters achieved 100% containment of the Box Turtle Wildfire, which spread to 158 acres.

For Maja Miletic's family, being able to walk outside and breathe in the air is a welcome reprieve after a shocking discovery.

"It was a wakeup call like, oh, so that can happen," Miletic said.

What happened was a wildfire, which began near Miletic's Franklin Township house Monday night. She said smoke from the fire spread to her neighborhood.

RELATED: Philadelphia area ranked 28th most polluted for ozone: state air quality report

"It was a little uncomfortable because, especially, I don't like running the AC in the house. I open the windows and everything," Miletic said.

For Mark Cavallaro, he said the air quality improved just enough for him to ride his bike.

"Everything had a grey tint to it in the air around you. As you walk outside, you weren't sure whether it was the fog or what. The only thing that lets you know is the smell in the air," Cavallaro said.

However, after a few hours, he said the smoke felt suffocating.

"You sort of get a panicky feeling like, wow, if this gets any worse, where can I go," he said.

Right now, people can't go anywhere in the Philadelphia region without feeling the effects of a wildfire, whether it's from the Gloucester County wildfire or the wildfires in Nova Scotia, Canada.

ALSO SEE: Canada wildfire could impact Philadelphia area: check out smoke map

The smoke forced authorities to issue air quality alerts for the region.

The American Lung Association's chief mission officer, Deb Brown, said children, older adults and people with lung disease should stay inside and keep their doors and windows shut.

"We know that breathing smoke can shorten lives. It can cause heart attacks, asthma attacks and other dangerous health effects," Brown said.

While the Gloucester County wildfire is now contained, Miletic said she's thankful it didn't turn out worse.

"We are blessed that we were not affected any other way than just uncomfort," she said.

The cause of the Gloucester County wildfire remains under investigation. The New Jersey Forest Fire Service said smoke conditions may persist for the next few days.

The American Lung Association has more information on its website about how families can stay safe when air quality warnings are issued.

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