The smoke from the massive wildfire is creating dangerous conditions for people with breathing ailments.
A check of hospital in Eastern Carolina Thursday morning showed several smoke-related cases, with more expected.
As of 11 a.m. Thursday, four smoke-related cases were reported in Beaufort County. Two people came into the hospital Wednesday, two Thursday. The patients had shortness of breath and respiratory issues.
Five patients have been treated at Lenoir Memorial Hospital for smoke-related respiratory issues. More cases are expected.
Wilson County has one patient with serious respiratory issues due to the smoke.
As of Thursday morning, Pitt Memorial Hospital in Greenville had not had a big increase in respiratory cases, just a handful. However, more cases are expected. Fifteen to twenty beds have been set aside in the emergency department. Most cases are aggravated asthma, but emphysema and chronic breathing patients are expected as well.
There was not an increase in asthma cases at the hospital in Wayne County Wednesday when the smoke was not as bad. A hospital spokesperson said they do expect to see an increase, as the smoke there worsened Thursday.
Washington County Hospital reported no increase in patients because of smoke. That was also the case in Craven County.
-Children who are active outside
-People who work or exercise outdoors
-People with heart conditions
-People with respiratory ailments such as asthma, bronchitis and emphysema.
Air quality experts are most concerned about the fine particles in the air.
"The primary pollutant of concern is fine particles, which consist of very small particles and liquid droplets in the air," reported a Division of Air Quality news release. "Particles can be harmful to breathe and contribute to haze and other air quality problems. Fine particles can penetrate deeply into the lungs and be absorbed into the bloodstream, causing or aggravating heart and lung diseases. Persons most susceptible to particle pollution include those with heart and respiratory conditions, the elderly and young children."
-Irritation of the eyes, nose and throat
-Chest pain or tightness
-Shortness of breath
In extreme cases, particle pollution can cause premature death.