Utah fire contributing to hazy skies
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Haze around Summit COunty likely is coming from smoke from as far away as Utah.Smoke from the largest fire in Utah’s history certainly played a part. There was at least one wildfire in southwestern Colorado Monday, and several others throughout the West.”We’ve had quite a few fires in the area, and that’s what most of the haze is from,” said Aldis Strautins, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Grand Junction. “Smoke is getting drawn over into Western Colorado and hanging out here as we sit underneath an upper-level high-pressure system. That kind of helps keep things stagnant. The smoke can’t get pushed out as easily that way.”Strautins said the high-pressure system, which has been keeping weather hot and dry as well as trapping the haze, is expected to continue through at least the beginning of next week.The Milford Flat Fire, burning about 120 miles south of Salt Lake City, had reached more than 300,000 acres this week. It was sparked by lightning on Friday. With 250 personnel already on the scene, up to another 250 firefighters and possibly more were expected to assist with the blaze.At least six other fires were burning across Utah, clouding the mountains surrounding Salt Lake City in a smoky haze. A wildfire sparked by lightning in Durango started Saturday night, destroyed a house and blackened 1,250 acres in southwest Colorado. Winds whipped the flames up to 100 feet high.The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) website said on Monday that 41 large fires were burning in 11 western states.”The severity of the western fire season increased dramatically in the last three days, as thunderstorms ignited 1,500 new fires over a widespread geographic region,” it said. According to the NIFC, several “large” fires were reported by Colorado’s western neighbors: six in Arizona, four in Utah and two in Wyoming.”I don’t have any numbers as far as what the pollution levels are,” Rada said. “Particulate pollution in the atmosphere can be particularly hard on folks that have chronic cardio-pulmonary disease, young children, older adults – it can be difficult for them. The particles, when they get into your lungs, can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb oxygen. It can intensify the symptoms of those already compromised.”
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