LAKE KATHRYN — Firefighters with the U.S. Forest Service began burnout operations in the Ocala National Forest, near the community of Lake Kathryn, last night to help control a 1,000-acre wildfire that burned in the area last week.
Changing wind patterns brought the drifting smoke over much of Lake County. It was originally thought that predicted weather conditions for Thursday would drive the smoke into the Ocala National Forest and away from nearby communities.
The Lake County Department of Public Safety, Emergency Management Division, is encouraging residents not to call 9-1-1 because of the smoke unless they see flames or feel an immediate threat to their health and safety.
Smoke is a respiratory irritant, and can cause scratchy throat, irritated eyes, nose and worsen conditions such as asthma and other chronic respiratory or lung conditions. The Lake County Health Department gives the following tips on protecting yourself from wildfire smoke:
Pay attention to local air quality reports and stay alert to any news coverage or health warnings related to smoke.
Use common sense. If it is smoky outside avoid prolonged outdoor activities. It is especially important to limit time spent outdoors for children and persons with existing medical conditions.
Stay indoors and run your air-conditioner if you have one. For best results in vehicles, run the air conditioning with re-circulated air or max air-conditioning setting. For questions regarding buildings that are equipped with outside air intakes, consult a licensed air-conditioning or mechanical contractor or professional engineer.
If you don't have an air conditioner, staying inside with the windows closed may be dangerous in extremely hot weather. In these cases, seek alternative shelter.
Help keep particle levels inside lower. When smoke levels are high, try to avoid using anything that burns, such as wood fireplaces, gas logs, gas stoves and even candles.
Don't vacuum since that stirs up particles already inside your home. Don't smoke tobacco.
Follow your doctor’s advice about taking your medicines and following your asthma management plan if you have asthma or other lung disease. Call your doctor if your symptoms worsen.