St. Petersburg, Florida -- For the Skyrm bothers, Bradley and Calvin, this was no day to breathe easy. In fact, it was downright dangerous.
Both brothers have asthma, which was triggered Thursday by a layer of smoke that blanketed the Bay area. A fire along the state's border with Georgia is being blamed.
Calvin has been breathing from his inhaler once every couple of hours.
"You know, my nose, my eyes, my lungs just don't agree with me when I try to breath," he says.
"It's horrible. It's like you can't breath," adds Bradley. "It's just a suffocating feeling almost. It's just horrible."
The smoke prompted warnings from local health departments and physicians whose offices were swamped with patients already suffering from seasonal allergies.
Dr. Maria Olivero, an allergy specialist in St.Petersburg, says oak, Australian pine pollen and other seasonal allergens were already making people suffer.
"It's kind of overwhelming to throw in some other irritants like smoke," she said.
For Lisandra Espinal in Clearwater,the warnings to stay inside were serious enough to make her consider cutting short her normal exercise routine.
"I'm gonna stop walking," said Espinal, "I'm gonna go home."
The smoke also generated hundreds of 911 calls throughout the Bay area.
In some cases, dispatchers werenearly overwhelmed by concerned callers wondering what was wrong when they stepped outside this morning and smelled smoke in their neighborhoods.
At the emergency operations center in Pinellas County, they handled 150 calls in just two hours, which is three times their normal volume.
The challenge? Without enough crews to check out every call, they had to figure out which ones were related to the smoke and which might be a bigger problem closer to home.
Michael Hammond, a911 dispatcher, says they'd ask each caller a short list of questions.
"Is it a haze, is it a column of smoke? Is it actually coming from something or do you just see it wafting through the air?"
In 24 cases, dispatchers sent a crew to check it out.
"A lot of those concerns can be addressed just by clarifying what they actually see outside," said Hammond.
If we see this same sort of smoke event in themorning, Dr. Oliverosayspeople with respiratory or allergy issues shouldtry to stay insideand run the air conditioner.
If you're in the car, she also recommends using use the a/c and making sure it's re-circulating the air.