- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 7, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Smoke from forest fires in Canada is causing problems for some people in the Dakotas, and health officials are urging people to limit exposure to the smoke.

The haze from wildfires in Saskatchewan has blanketed the region since last week. David and Kelly Andrews of Napoleon, North Dakota, who both have asthma, told KXMB-TV that they have had to increase the use of their inhalers due to the smoke.

“It feels like there’s an elephant standing on your chest,” said Kelly Andrews, whose doctor put her on medicine to help her lungs deal with the conditions. “It smothers you. You can’t breathe.”

The smoke won’t affect most people but can be bad for those with asthma or allergies, said Chuck Hyatt, a program manager with the North Dakota Health Department’s air quality division. Everyone should avoid strenuous outside activity in the smoky conditions, he told KXMB.

“If you’re feeling the effects and it’s affecting you negatively, you should limit your exposure,” he said.

Mitchell, South Dakota, Fire Marshal Marius Laursen told The Daily Republic newspaper that people sensitive to smoke should consider staying indoors or wearing a mask while outdoors.

Recent rains in some areas has helped cleanse the smoke from the air, National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Fowle told the American News in Aberdeen, which got more than 2 inches of rain over the weekend.

“If you get rain, it will start to wash some particles out,” he said. “That’s why is hasn’t been as hazy here.”

There also might be relief on a larger scale late in the week, with wind directions expected to switch and push the smoke back toward the north, said Zachary Hargrove, a weather service meteorologist in Bismarck.

“We are expecting a remarkable improvement by Thursday, Friday into the weekend,” he told KXMB.

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