All week, the sun has set bright red and a bit higher than the horizon, behind a thick layer of clouds and haze from the west. But Thursday was the first time that Inner Loop Houston really saw and smelled the smoke from the rampant wildfires afflicting Texas, including nearby Montgomery County.
There were a number of false alarms around the city on Thursday morning before most of the smoke dissipated, including a scare in a downtown Houston building.
We spoke with Heather Dempsey, an executive assistant at a downtown firm: The smoke was so thick during her commute around 7:30 a.m. that she initially assumed it was fog. But when she pulled up to her building on the 1000 Main Street block, fire trucks were queued up outside.
"There were about 10 or 15 people at the security desk downstairs, asking whether it was safe to go inside or use the elevators," Dempsey said. "The smell was really prevalent in the parking garage — but it also smelled like smoke inside the building, and it was burning our eyes."
Houston Fire Department has been responding to these calls, but it released a statement at 9:30 a.m. to dispel some of the rumors and false alarms:
"This morning . . . Houstonians on their way to work discovered there was a thick blanket of smoke and haze covering the Houston area. This smoke is from the continuing wildfire in Magnolia, Texas that is being fueled by the extremely dry vegetation."
Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services issued an Air Quality Health Advisory on Wednesday for northwest Harris County, urging people with sensitive health to limit exposure to the outdoors.