As the wildfires in Canada continue to impact air quality across the U.S., businesses and fire officials in our region are issuing safety advisories as hazardous air conditions persist in Canada and the U.S.
In this region, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is reporting smoky Code Orange conditions — which advises that sensitive populations and children should limit their outdoor activities.
That’s part of the reason why the Erie Zoo closed early on Thursday.
“You’ll see that some of the animals are not going to be out at all today, specifically a lot of the birds like the penguins and our elderly animals like our tiger and some of the llamas,” said Emily Smicker, marketing and event coordinator, Erie Zoo.
Smicker said they also perform a risk assessment which means that if the animals are stressed by being indoors they will give them access to outside. She added they take the health of all at the zoo very seriously.
Some visitors said they appreciate the concern.
“I have a child who has a breathing problem, and it gets worse as the air quality deteriorates. We get a lot more coughing, we have difficulty feeling like we can breathe, and that’s a real concern,” said Claire Manjerovic, Visiting Erie Zoo.
“It is really important for us to prioritize not only our animal safety but our guest and our staff safety as well. We have lots of protocols in place for situations like this,” Smicker said.
In addition to poor air quality concerns, the City of Erie fire officials have issued a burn ban to prevent brush fires like the ones we see in Canada.
“Even though people are trying to be careful with their recreational fires, a few embers fly out and land. Just because they land there and they don’t flame up right away doesn’t mean it’s not sitting there smoldering and going to light up later,” said Assistant Fire Chief Leonard Trott, Erie Fire Department.
In the last week, the City of Erie Fire Department has responded to more than 24 fires including a large fire near East Avenue.
“There was like an acre that burned. We don’t know why or what started it, but there was a large field fire. We had two or three companies there for a couple of hours making sure it was out and didn’t start back up again,” Trott added.