Wildfire brings smoke and health threats to the Sierra and Western NV

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Wildfire brings smoke and health threats to the Sierra and Western NV

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The American Fire in the Tahoe National Forest is expected to continue sending smoke into the basin Thursday. Air quality warnings are in effect throughout the region as doctors say the conditions pose very real health threats.

The American Fire in the Tahoe National Forest is expected to continue sending smoke into the basin Thursday. Air quality warnings are in effect throughout the region.

Strong winds and the raging 3,000 acre fire have conspired to make the conditions quite serious in the Sierra and Western Nevada. Those who are elderly or susceptible to asthma are, of course, most at risk, but long term exposure can start to causes symptoms in even healthier people, as well.

"Within a short period of time, you'd be surprised at how bad the lungs look when they're filtering out all that smoke. It's very obvious."

That's Dr. Daniel Spogen, who practices medicine at the University of Nevada Medical School. He says when the wind and smoke kicks up they see more patients with respitory issues. Those can range from minor irritations to more serious issues like bronchitis. He recommends even healthy people get their outdoor activities out of the way during the morning when there's typically not as much smoke and stay inside when possible.

"Just the fact that there's a roof over your head keeps some of that stuff from getting into the air you breathe, as well."

Spogen says while wood smoke is not as harmful as smog, it still can have a major effect on the lungs.