Air quality warnings extended through Saturday night

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management is extending its Air Quality Action Day alert into Saturday.

According to the agency, higher temperatures and minimal cloud cover are making conditions ripe for ground-level ozone to develop.

Ground-level ozone forms when sunlight and hot weather combine with vehicle exhaust, factory emissions, and gasoline vapors. While ozone in the upper atmosphere blocks ultraviolet radiation, ozone near the ground is a lung irritant that can cause coughing and breathing difficulties for sensitive populations.

Children, the elderly, and anyone with heart or lung conditions should reduce or avoid exertion and heavy work outdoors.

The Air Quality Action Day alert now lasts through midnight Saturday.

Emergency officials are also warning about the dangers of fires burning out of control during this weekend of hot and dry weather.

According to the Bartholomew County Emergency Management Department, there is an elevated risk of fire danger today and lasting through the weekend. With the high temperatures in the lower 90s, low humidity and dry ground, there is an elevated risk of fire danger.

The National Weather Service warns that any outdoor fires that start in these elevated fire risk conditions will likely spread rapidly. Outdoor burning is not recommended. Also, you should never throw lit cigarettes from your vehicle.

The dry conditions and elevated fire risk will continue through most of next week.