NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – An Air Quality Alert has been issued in New Mexico due to smoke from the Aztec Springs prescribed burn in the Santa Fe National Forest. The alert was issued Wednesday night and according to SFNF, the remaining smoke may linger through Saturday, Oct. 30.
On Wednesday, Oct. 27 the Forest Service started the prescribed burn of about 300 acres in the Santa Fe Municipal Watershed just north of Nichols Reservoir.
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Forest officials report that Wednesday’s good ventilation and winds overnight helped to disperse smoke from the burn and push it southeast and away from Santa Fe. However, diminishing winds are expected to bring what’s left of the smoke into town where it is expected to remain until Saturday morning.
Ignitions were completed on Wednesday however, the Forest Service states that since Aztec Springs sits on a western ridge at a higher elevation, smoke was visible from Santa Fe on Thursday. The New Mexico Departments of Health and Environment urge anyone living in the city or surrounding areas to be prepared to reduce their exposure to the smoke.
Smoke may continue to be visible from Santa Fe, Tesuque, Glorieta, Pecos Canyon, El Dorado, and I-25 due to winds.
Individuals with health conditions like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, interstitial lung disease, lung cancer, and heart disease will be especially vulnerable to poor air quality. Additionally, adults over 65, young children, and pregnant women are vulnerable if smoke conditions become unhealthy.
If it is smoky outside find out how far you can see. First, decide if the visibility is closer to 5 miles, 3 miles or 1 mile. pick a landmark you are familiar with and see if you can see it. Facing away from the sun, look for landmarks such as mountains, mesas, hills, or buildings in those mile ranges to help you estimate visibility. If these objects are not easy to see in these mile ranges, then decide:
Is the visibility under 5 miles? If you can see less than 5 miles, the air quality is unhealthy for young children, adults over age 65, pregnant women, and people with heart and/or lung disease, asthma or other respiratory illness; they should minimize outdoor activity. These people should reschedule outdoor recreational activities for a day with better air quality. It is okay for adults in good health to be out and about but they should periodically check visibility especially when fires are nearby.
Is the visibility just about 3 miles? Young children, adults over age 65, pregnant women, and people with heart and/or lung disease, asthma or other respiratory illness should avoid all outdoor activities. These people should stay indoors. All outdoor activities should be avoided, including running errands. Everyone else should try to stay indoors as much as possible. All outdoor recreational activities should be rescheduled for a day with better air quality.
Is the visibility about 1 mile? If you can see less than 1 mile that means the air quality is unhealthy for everyone. People should remain indoors and avoid all outdoor activities including running errands. Unless an evacuation has been issued, stay inside your home, indoor workplace, or in a safe shelter.
Regardless of the visibility, if you are feeling as though you are having health effects from smoke, take precautions to avoid exposure to smoke and see your doctor or health professional as needed.
Since the southwest United States typically has very low humidity, visibility can be an effective tool to determine if it is healthy to be outside when smoke is present. The visibility test is not appropriate or effective in areas with high humidity, such as the southeastern United States, where water vapor (fog) may limit visibility.