My daughter, who will be 13 this month, has had to spend a great deal of her summers indoors because of smoke (she has asthma too). It is definitely not the same as when I was growing up here. A smokey summer happened rarely; now it's the norm and a relatively clear summer (like last year) is rare. It's depressing: you spend all year looking forward to swimming in the lake or river and then can't because it's too smokey. I feel awful for everyone who is displaced from wildfires, or who have lost their homes (or worse, loved ones) from wildfires. There is a town that was obliterated two years ago from a wildfire that still doesn't exist, despite a community that desperately wants to rebuild. I understand wanting to return to where your roots are, but I'm not sure that their town wouldn't just be obliterated again with another fire, they are definitely in a high risk area.
We have had three years of that sort of smoke here in northern California... last summer and fall gave us a bit of a break, thankfully. Three out of four years then.
The schools here are now mandated to schedule "smoke and fire emergency" days to use as make up days if are mandated to close the schools due to fire or smoke.
The worst of the fires ripped right through Santa Rosa (2009) and took out thousands of homes. The fire was about a mile away from where I live. And it wasn't just smoke from trees burning... it was created from burning carpets and lawn chemicals and cars and paint. Really smelled awful.
County wide 5500 structures burned, releasing tons and tons of toxins into the air.
No doubt it will happen again... in fact fires almost that bad have occurred twice since then... right here in lush green Sonoma County!