HOLDEN (CBS) — The smell of smoke and the sight of haze hung in the air in Massachusetts due to wildfires burning thousands of miles away. Multiple fire departments reported fielding calls Monday from concerned residents. An Air Quality Alert has been issued through noon Tuesday.

“We have responded to numerous reports of smoke in the area. There is a haze and smell of smoke all throughout north central MA,” the Hubbardston Fire Department said. “This is due to wildfire smoke in the atmosphere coming from the western part of the country.”

Holden residents also alerted firefighters to the smell.

“The Fire Department has been getting calls about smoke in the area from different parts of Holden,” the fire department said. “We have investigated and have found no fires in town.”

Spencer fire officials also said the smell caused concern in town. “The big thing with this is the smell,” said Spencer Fire Chief Robert Parsons. “It smelled like rubber or plastic burning.”

The smell had Concord firefighters running down phantom calls all day. “Most people thought there was a brush fire in the area,” Concord Fire Captain Sean Murphy said. “But the area is California.”

Concord opted to make a reverse 911 call advising residents that nothing was actually on fire.

By the afternoon, the visible smoke had made it to Boston.

WBZ-TV Chief Meteorologist Eric Fisher said the plume impacting the area is from wildfires in the Manitoba region of Canada, which is closer than the Pacific Northwest fires that sent smoke to the region last week.

An Air Quality Alert is in effect through noon Tuesday for Massachusetts. The air is “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” according to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

(WBZ-TV graphic)

“While much of the smoke is aloft, some of the plume is mixing down to the surface and increasing fine particle levels,” MassDEP said.

“Wildfire smoke contains a combination of gases and something called fine particulate matter which, when breathed in, can actually cause symptoms in people who are at risk with underlying condition,” said WBZ-TV’s Dr. Mallika Marshall. “Other people who are at risk are the elderly, young children, pregnant women”

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services also issued an air quality advisory through Tuesday, “meaning fine particle air pollution reaching unhealthy levels for sensitive individuals.” They recommend limited prolonged outdoor exertion while the advisory is in effect.

CBSBoston.com Staff