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Air quality alert issued for parts of Mass. as smoke from wildfires hovers over region

The Boston skyline was obscured by haze on Monday, as seen from Fenway Park ahead of the Sox game.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

The wildfires raging on the West Coast and in Canada have affected air quality in Massachusetts, with state officials on Monday warning the blazes on the other side of the country could render the air “unhealthy” for people with certain medical conditions throughout much of the Commonwealth.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection confirmed the news on Monday afternoon via Twitter.

#AirQuality Alert: Smoke plume from US & Canadian #wildfires is again causing fine particle levels to elevate into Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups range today in all MA counties except Plymouth, Bristol & the Cape & Islands,” the DEP tweeted.


The National Weather Service, in a separate tweet, said the state’s alert would remain in effect until midnight.

The parts of the state Monday afternoon where the air quality was listed as unhealthy, or unhealthy for those with health challenges, included areas of Chelmsford, Chicopee, Haverhill, Lynn, North Adams, Pittsfield, and Worcester, according to the DEP website.

Parts of Boston were also affected, according to the state DEP.

The Massachusetts DEP’s online air quality tracker on Monday night was reporting air that was “unhealthy” in Kenmore Square, Lower Roxbury, and just south of the Andrew MBTA Station in South Boston. In Greater Boston there was unhealthy air reported near the Fore River in Weymouth, on Willow Street in Chelsea, and near Breeds Pond in Lynn.

The air was rated “unhealthy for sensitive groups” Monday night in parts of Springfield, Chicopee, Ware, and Greenfield.

Those sensitive groups, the state says, include people with heart or lung conditions such as asthma, older adults, children, teenagers, and people who are active outdoors. People in sensitive groups, the DEP site says, should reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion; take more breaks and keep quick relief medicine handy.


Several Massachusetts fire departments tweeted about the air issues Monday, including the Holden Fire Department.

“The Fire Department has been getting calls about smoke in the area from different parts of Holden,” the department tweeted. “We have investigated and have found no fires in town. At this time, it is believed to be smoke from the wildfires on the West Coast. Of course, please call 911 if you see a fire.”

The Worcester Fire Department tweeted separately that it had responded to “numerous” reports of smoke in the area.

“There is a haze and smell of smoke all throughout Central MA,” Worcester fire officials tweeted. “This is due to wildfire smoke from the western part of the country.”

Flames racing through rugged terrain in Northern California destroyed multiple homes Saturday as the state’s largest wildfire intensified and numerous other blazes battered the West.

The wildfires in Canada were also significant.

Environment Canada issued a special air quality statement Sunday for several regions across Ontario, including the Greater Toronto Area.

On Monday in Massachusetts, officials with the state Division of Fisheries & Wildlife also said their agency has been getting calls about “wildfire smoke.”

“The smoke and haze we’re currently experiencing is originating from heavy wildfire activity in central Canada. Smoke from these fires is being captured in the jet stream and mixing down to the surface here in New England,” the division said via Facebook.

Smoke modeling, the posting said, indicates the conditions “will move west to east across the state and could persist until humidity levels decrease and surface winds increase to help move the smoke offshore.”


The posting said DCR Fire Control hadn’t reported “any wildfire activity” in Massachusetts.

Torry Gaucher, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said by phone Monday the smoke in Massachusetts likely “won’t be as prevalent” Tuesday, and that an expected cold front should lead to clearer skies on Wednesday.

However, Gaucher said, the smoke could return later in the week depending on wind patterns.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report and Steve Annear of the Globe Staff contributed.

Travis Andersen can be reached at