The Fire Department urges citizens to take appropriate actions due to the smoke in the area from the wildfire in the Dismal Swamp. This smoke will be in the area over the next few days, but we expect it to lighten overnight.
The smoke is generating increased demand on the emergency response system. The Virginia Beach Emergency Communications Center (911) has seen an increase in calls. “We have increased staffing to field the calls at the communications center,” said District Fire Chief David Wade. Residents are advised to call 911 only if they actually see smoke or flames coming from a structure or vehicle.
Driving in the area is also more dangerous due to reduced visibility. Citizens are encouraged to reduce travel, if possible, and to drive with headlights on to increase visibility, reducing the likelihood of an accident. Allow for more stopping distances by increasing spacing between vehicles.
An air quality alert has been issued until midnight. We expect the smoke to irritate sensitive parts of our population, increasing the demand on our medical services. Air quality is expected to reach code orange, which is unhealthy for sensitive groups. This means individuals with respiratory or heart ailments, older adults and children should reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion. Stay inside and use your air conditioner. Avoid activities that put extra demands on your lungs and heart, including exercise and physical chores, both outdoors and indoors.
For more information, please contact Battalion Chief Kenneth Pravetz at (757) 385-8713 or firstname.lastname@example.org.