BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — The Matts Creek wildfire in Bedford County is continuing to blaze. It’s now scorched about 2,500 acres and U.S. Forest Service says they only expect that number to increase. Currently, the fire is still zero percent contained, and air quality concerns are on the rise.
One Glasgow business owner, Francesco Scotto Di Rinaldi, says the smoke looks like something out of a scary movie.
“The sun was being filtered out by the smoke, so everything had an orange hue to it, we had ash falling down so a lot of customers were confused, some customers thought it was snow,” said Di Rinaldi.
He says he was prepared for the wildfire, but wasn’t ready for just how big it’s become.
“We obviously knew the fire had already started Monday, so we were expecting this, but definitely wasn’t expecting it to be this big of an impact,” said Di Rinaldi.
As the fire grows, so do air quality concerns, even prompting one elementary school to cancel classes.
Doctor Joey Lane with Allergy Partners of Lynchburg says wildfire smoke can be dangerous because it’s a mixture of smoke and debris from burning leaves and trees.
“Patients will inhale this stuff and it gets down into the lower parts of the airways and it aggravates the airways of these patients with underlying lung disease that have sensitive airways to begin with,” said Dr. Lane.
While those with breathing conditions are at higher risk, anyone can be impacted. He says the best thing to do is stay inside, but if that is not possible, he recommends wearing a tightly fitted mask.
“Like an n-95 or a kn-95 mask, that will help trap and keep some of those particles outside,” said Dr. Lane.
He says symptoms of smoke exposure can include coughing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and upper respiratory symptoms like sneezing, stuffy nose, or burning and watering eyes.