PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Allegheny County Health and Emergency Services departments are asking residents to stop all their legal recreational burning during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Officials say not only does it increase risks for people with heart and respiratory problems during the outbreak, but it also increases preventable fire risks.

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According to the county, there has been a recent increase in legal recreational burning while people are at home during the pandemic. They say some of the fires are burning for an extended time period.

County health officials say the smoke from burning can increase a person’s susceptibility to the virus. It can also worsen the symptoms and make fighting off COVID-19 more difficult for patients.

In a news release, Health Department Director Dr. Debra Bogen, says: “With more people at home due to the pandemic, we have seen a significant increase in recreational burning. The resulting smoke reduces local air quality and for our neighbors and friends with chronic diseases such as asthma or COPD, local burns can trigger the need for more medication, emergency medical visits, and deterioration of the chronic conditions. Please – I ask you all during this crisis to think about the health needs of your neighbors and refrain from all backyard burns.”

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The Emergency Services Department says recreational burning can take resources away from virus emergency calls because firefighters instead have to respond to preventable fires and use much-needed equipment while bringing them under control.