FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Smoky conditions from a fire burning in the eastern Everglades affected morning commutes and air quality from Palm Beach to Miami-Dade Monday morning.
The National Weather Service issued a dense smoke advisory for Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade until 12 p.m. Monday.
Forestry officials said lightning sparked the fire Saturday night north of I-75 and west of U.S. 27 but it wasn’t until Sunday that the smell of smoke caught people’s attention.
The brush fire, as of Monday around 3:30 p.m., has burned approximately 19,500 acres.
According to the Department of Environmental Resources (DERM), the air index, at around 10 a.m., was at 105 compared to the norm which is anywhere between 30 and 40.
The smoke and ash had caused South Florida’s air quality to be deemed unhealthy for sensitive groups, those with respiratory problems such as asthma, emphysema, etc., according to DERM.
“It smells like smoke all the way east and I live all the way west, so you could smell it out there, but it seems worse this way for some reason,” said Tina Foster-Walker.
Dr. Nabil El Sanadi from Broward Health said that those with normal lung function could experience trouble today.
“For people that have lung compromise, meaning chronic pulmonary obstructive disease, asthma, congestive heart failure, I think the right thing to do is stay indoors, not to expose yourself to this kind of air,” said Dr. El Sanadi.
“I would still recommend caution, meaning people who like to jog outside, consider the air quality, because you’re using that oxygen, you’re using the oxygen and some of that stuff will get in your lungs,” advised Dr. El Sanadi.
Plenty of cars in South Florida Monday were blanketed in ash because of the brush fire.
Cathleen and her mother Catherine in Ft. Lauderdale certainly felt the effects of the air.
“It’s a little tough to breath, it’s a little tight in my chest. I’m asthmatic,” said Cathleen.
“It’s just a little heavy to breath, just a little, you need to be inside, indoors, AC,” added her mother Catherine.
On Monday, Miami-Dade issued a precautionary advisory for “elevated levels of air pollutants.”
The advisory states that citizens, especially children, the elderly, and pregnant women should take precautionary steps to stay indoors Monday.
Also, which echoes Dr. Sanabi’s advice, outdoor activities, especially exercising and physical chores, should be avoided.
Miami-Dade County can obtain the air quality index by calling 305-372-6925.
Also, RER-DERM offers a free service that allows subscribers to receive via e-mail a daily air quality forecast for Miami-Dade County. To subscribe, residents should go to http://miamidade.enviroflash.info.