GARDNERVILLE, NV - Smoke from the Rim Fire has been causing air quality problems for all of us in northwestern Nevada, but Douglas County seems to be hit especially hard. Most of Thursday, its air was rated "Very Unhealthy", even reaching the "Hazardous" level at one point. At the area's Senior Center, most people are handling the suffocating air quality with a dose of humor.
Dennis Johnson had a double lung transplant one year ago. He's doing great, but can only go outside for a few minutes and must wear a mask when he does. He says his wife has COPD and has been staying inside as much as possible.
Going to the Senior Center, gives many people a chance to get out of the house, while still enjoying the benefits of air conditioning. The county even provides transportation when necessary. Seniors play cards and even enjoy a low cost meal.
In addition to making it difficult to breathe, high levels of particles in the air can trigger stroke or heart attack for people with health problems. So far, though, emergency responders are not seeing an increased rate of health emergencies. "Yesterday we spoke with our hospital and our senior living facilities and Douglas-Tahoe fire, and we didn't find anybody that was having anything that was statistically different than the normal," Says David Fogerson, Deputy Fire Chief of East Fork Fire Department.