A large fire broke out in Newark Harbor early Tuesday morning and New York City’s air quality rapidly deteriorated as the smell of smoke wafted into Manhattan and Brooklyn.
As the fire burned, the air quality index (AQI) in Central Park rose to 152, a level considered unhealthy for residents, even those in good health. At that level, the EPA recommends that everyone consider reducing time outdoors or staying indoors altogether.
However, by noon, the levels had dropped sharply, back to 117.
The main pollutant was listed as PM2.5, or “particle pollution,” which can come from a fire.
The higher the index, the worse the air quality. The index was just 75 at 8 a.m. and has, on average, been below 75 in the city for the past month, according to the EPA’s AirNow website.
The EPA said air quality has improved throughout the day.
Witnesses reported that smoke could be seen and smelled as far away as 1st Avenue in Manhattan and the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn.
The fire started around 8 p.m. Monday at a recycling facility.
Bulldozers moved burning debris at the scrap recycling plant throughout the day.
The fire on Calcutta Street in the Port of Newark neighborhood intensified as firefighters surrounded the scene.
It’s not clear how it started or exactly how long it will take to fully contain it.
No injuries were reported.