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Yep, that's a wildfire you're smelling in the air today - Bring Me The News

Yep, that's a wildfire you're smelling in the air today

And it could pose health concerns for some.
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Thick haze from wildfires in Missoula, Montana. 

Thick haze from wildfires in Missoula, Montana. 

You may have noticed the unmistakable scent of fire and a certain haze in the sky this Labor Day.

It's not just Minnesota - a big chunk of the Midwest is experiencing similar conditions, with KETV reporting a "milky color" in the skies above Iowa and Nebraska, too.

And it's all because of far-off wildfires.

According to an air quality alert from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, strong winds have brought a "wave" of smoke all the way here from Canada and the Pacific U.S. states, where fires have been raging – and destroying land and property – since last month

"The thickest smoke is presently from west central Minnesota into the Twin Cities and southward to the Iowa border," an email from EPA's AirNow program says.

However, the pollution control agency says that by Monday evening, "stronger northwest winds" will begin pushing the smoke south of Minnesota.

Where all the wildfires are

The interactive map below shows just how widespread these blazes are:

In California, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency on Sunday because of multiple wildfires throughout the state, including one that NPR describes as "the largest wildfire in Los Angeles history."

Similar declarations were made in western Canada and Washington state, and "two busloads of hikers" had to be rescued from fires in Oregon, the Associated Press reported. 

Wildfires are also plaguing Montana, where incidentally a historic lodge built by Minnesota's James J. Hill burned down in the Sprague Fire last week

Is the air safe?

There are a lot of particles in Minnesota's air (especially in the southern two-thirds of the state), according to state pollution officials, but the air quality is largely considered "moderate" – that's the yellow in the map below – right now. 

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For most people this means going outdoors shouldn't be a problem, but moderate-level air quality does pose health concerns for some people, including children, the elderly, and people with medical conditions like asthma and emphysema.

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Minnesota still below average for wildfires

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