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Smoke Fills Utah Valley, Prompts Air Quality Alerts

Can you see the "Y" in BYU? It's behind all this smoke.

PROVO, Utah – Smoke from the fast-growing Coal Hollow Fire has stifled folks in Utah County, especially near the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon.

You could hardly see the BYU “Y” on the mountain Thursday morning.

Residents and visitors in the area across the state were dealing with dangerous, unhealthy air quality levels.

Dr. Camille Allison, a faculty physician with Intermountain Healthcare’s Merrill Gappmayer Family Medicine in Provo, said the best treatment for the bad air is to keep the smoke out of your lungs. Stay indoors.

“Try to plan your activities, particularly if you have a young child or someone who’s vulnerable, rearranging your schedule so that you’re not outside swimming or outside running. Trying to find an alternate activity inside. It’s important to stay active, as always, but maybe just move that inside to better air quality,” she said.

Dr. Allison has seen quite a number of patients with chronic lung disease or asthma come into their clinic, and some have had to be hospitalized.

She said even folks who aren’t prone to these things could have a reaction to the smoky air.

What symptoms should you look for in your child who can’t communicate their symptoms yet?

“For kids who can’t talk you want to watch for, for anyone, wheezing. But for kids, if they’re struggling to breathe, (look) if they’re using their belly muscles to breathe around their rib cage, if they’re sucking around. Those are big warning signs and for that you probably want to take them immediately to the ER,” she said.

She added, “If you’re having a lot of coughing, really if you’re in distress or uncomfortable at any point or you have concerns, obviously always go to your doctor.”

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