BEMIDJI -- Smoke has returned to the region once again.

The National Weather Service in Grand Forks issued an air quality alert through 3 p.m. on Friday covering much of northwest Minnesota. Overall today, July 29, fine particle levels are expected to reach the red Air Quality Index category, a level considered unhealthy for everyone, across north central and northwest Minnesota.

According to the alert, some members of the general public may experience health effects. Sensitive groups, such as people with lung disease (including asthma), heart disease, and children and older adults, may experience health effects.

Northerly winds behind a cold front have brought smoke from wildfires located north of the Canadian border in Ontario and Manitoba into Minnesota. As of 8 a.m. Thursday morning, an area of heavy smoke had extended across north-central Minnesota, from the Canadian border to St. Cloud, the alert said.

Heavy smoke blowing in from Canadian wildfires fills the air on Thursday, July 29, 2021, over Lake Bemidji. (Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer)
Heavy smoke blowing in from Canadian wildfires fills the air on Thursday, July 29, 2021, over Lake Bemidji. (Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer)

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Areas impacted include Roseau, Baudette, Detroit Lakes, Bemidji, East Grand Forks, Moorhead, and the tribal nations of Leech Lake and Red Lake.

Sensitive groups, such as people with lung disease (including asthma), heart disease, and children and older adults, should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion. The general public should limit prolonged or heavy exertion.

For information on current air quality conditions in your area and to sign up for daily air quality forecasts and alert notifications by email, text message, phone, or the Minnesota Air mobile app, visit pca.state.mn.us/air/current-air-quality. You can find additional information about health and air quality at pca.state.mn.us/air/why-you-should-care-air-quality-and-health.