Smoke from Collier fires could affect weekend seafood festival on Marco Island

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When she woke up Friday morning on Marco Island, resident Erinmia Milchman says she could barely breathe.

“It was very thick on the south side of the island,” she says of the smoke from several Collier County fires. “It was heavy. It was hard to breathe. My eyes were watering. It was significant.”

Neighbor Joey Waves has a mask to wear just in case.

“It was really smokey and I thought we were going to have to wear these, but it cleared up,” he said.

Across Collier County, fires continue to burn thousands of acres of brush. A lot of that smoke is heading south to Marco Island, where thousands of people are expected to celebrate the Seafood and Music festival this weekend.

“This morning it was a little touch and go. We had some ash in the air but it was still a good day. But it was a little bothersome for anyone who has some problems,” said festival Director of Marketing Finance Dianna Dohm.

Dohm says the smoke didn’t affect Friday night’s festivities too much, but she’s keeping a close eye on the fires.

“I get hourly updates from the Marco Island Fire Department,” she said.

This is so volunteers like Milchman can prepare and keep everyone safe.

“Mother nature is a wonder. Fires are a very scary thing and we have to be alert and know what to do when we have a situation. We’re trying really hard to inform people where the fires are and when it’s time to be inside and not breathe air,” Milchman said.

Marco Island Police say if you have respiratory issues, you might want to stay indoors this weekend and keep an eye on the wind.

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