Wildfires cause haze in Aspen | AspenTimes.com
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Wildfires cause haze in Aspen

Charles Agar
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Aspen was shrouded in a haze of wildfire smoke on Friday.

Local health officials say the bad air likely is a mix of smoke from ongoing fires in northern California and two fires in nearby Mesa County, some 29 miles outside of Grand Junction.

“It rolled in yesterday and got thicker this morning,” said C.J. Oliver, senior environmental health specialist, on Friday.

The online link to air-quality sensors on the roof of the Pitkin County Library, however, were not connected yet, Oliver said, so there was no local data available.

But Oliver said that just from visual observations, the air quality clearly had dropped.

Two wildfires ” Coal Creek and Clover ” on the Grand Mesa have burned more than 400 acres of rugged terrain in the Grand Mesa National Forest, and firefighters decided to allow two brush fires to simply burn out.

Given the timing of the conditions in Aspen, Oliver said the smoke most likely was from the Grand Mesa fires, but could have combined with smoke from fires in California.

Nearby Garfield County health officials reported similar conditions.

“We have fires all over the West now,” said Jim Rada, environmental health manager in Garfield County, who reported a drop in air quality on Friday.

Rada also attributed the smoke in his area to the Mesa County wildfires, but said there is a “significant contribution of the California fire smoke to this.”

Despite being out of the path of the Mesa County fires, monitors in Grand Junction showed a drop in air quality, according to Sarah Gallup, lead information officer for a team managing the Mesa County blazes.

“We know that some of the smoke that is in the area is from northern California,”

Gallup said. “But it’s a combination and sort of hard to sort it out.”

Regardless of the source, it looks like the haze in Aspen could continue as the fires rage on.

Oliver said the situation in Aspen is cause for some concern.

“When it becomes visible like this, it becomes a concern for people with respiratory issues,” Oliver said.

People with asthma or other conditions might want to avoid strenuous exercise, stay inside or wear a mask, he said.

cagar@aspentimes.com


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