Weary firefighters say there is no end in sight as fires rage in the southern Appalachians from Georgia up to Kentucky. 

Klaus Moeltner, a Virginia Tech professor of agricultural and applied economics who has extensively studied wildfires, points out that smoke from these fires travels hundreds of miles and has a serious impact on the health of people who live downwind.

“We always talk about the immediate economic impact of these fires, but it is very possible that the bulk of the damage is the smoke that travels for hundreds of miles and has serious health effects,” Moeltner said.

Moeltner’s bio

Smoke from fires can cause a host of respiratory and cardiovascular issues and degrades air quality in already polluted areas where people can have trouble breathing.

Moeltner said as fires become increasingly commonplace, more thought needs to be put into how people in an entire region may be impacted by an upwind blaze, hundreds of miles away.

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