The haze that has been hanging over Corbin and Whitley County is from a combination of forest fires burning in Knox and Harlan counties along with multiple fires in Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia.
Shawn Harley, the meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service in Jackson said the prevailing winds have been out of the south pushing the smoke across the area.
“We are getting sort of a double whammy,” Harley said.
While there are no official air quality measurements available in the Corbin/Whitley County area, Harley said the smoke has reduced visibility at the London/Corbin Airport to three-quarters of a mile.
Whitley County Emergency Management Director Danny Moses said he has not received any alerts advising those with breathing difficulties to limit their time outside.
“They aren’t calling it a threat to health, but I do know people with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) who are having more problems because of the smoke,” Moses said.
“I would suggest anything with COPD or asthma limit their outdoor activities,” he added.
A front moving through the area Wednesday is expected to shift the prevailing winds to blowing out of the northwest and increase the gusts.
“From an air quality standpoint things will be much better,” Harley said.
While the area has seen higher than normal precipitation for the year, Harley said since September 1, it is more than five inches below normal.
“It has been a very, very dry fall,” Harley said.
Harley said long-range forecast calls for that to change over the next 10 days with temperatures falling and precipitation increasing.
Whitley County Emergency Management Director Danny Moses said despite the ban on all outdoor burning, area fire departments have been called to several locations where residents have been burning leaves and other debris.
Officials with the Kentucky Division of Forestry said that two fires in Knox County were brought under control this week.
Those two fires destroyed 313 acres.
Officials said arson was the cause in both fires.
“There are still 3 other fires in Knox County that KDF employees are working on,” commented Tony Smith, a Forest Warden with the Kentucky Division of Forestry.