Smoke still causing poor air quality in Staunton and surrounding areas Friday morning

The area is under a code orange air quality alert as smoke from nearby wildfires continues to impact the Shenandoah Valley.

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality issued the alert that is in effect until midnight Friday for Augusta, Rockingham, Shenandoah, Page, Warren, Frederick, Clarke, Nelson and Albemarle counties, and stretches into three West Virginia counties — Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan.

An air quality alert means that fine particulates concentrations within the region may approach or exceed unhealthy standards. Code orange means it's unhealthy for sensitive groups.

In Staunton, however, just before 10 a.m. Friday, the air quality was considered unhealthy for everyone at 161. That data is per Elizabeth Szabo's IQAir monitor in Sears Hill.

Wildfires continue to burn, with the two largest being Matts Creek in Bedford and Quaker Run in Madison. The U.S. Forest Service's Friday morning update on Matts Creek shows the current size of the fire is 5,148 acres and containment remains at 2%.

The VDEQ suggests limiting or rescheduling strenuous outdoor activities until conditions improve. In particular, air quality in Rockbridge County is in the hazardous range, the department said. Rockbridge residents should significantly reduce physical activities and sensitive groups should avoid all physical activities.

More: Staunton searching for new director of tourism as Sheryl Wagner announces her departure

More: Aircraft diverted to Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport in Weyers Cave

Patrick Hite is a reporter at The News Leader. Story ideas and tips always welcome. Contact Patrick (he/him/his) at and follow him on Twitter @Patrick_Hite. Subscribe to us at

This article originally appeared on Staunton News Leader: Smoke still causing poor air quality in Staunton and surrounding areas