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Updated: Friday, 03 Jun 2011, 3:54 PM MDT
Published : Friday, 03 Jun 2011, 3:37 PM MDT
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - With lightning in the forecast for some areas of New Mexico this weekend the prospect for more fires is high as air quality continues to suffer from smoke drifting in from a historic-level fire in Arizona.
Early Friday afternoon Albuquerque Environmental Health issued an air-quality alert for elevated levels of particulate matter largely from smoke blowing in from the 100,000-acre Wallow Fire in eastern Arizona. The alert is in effect until 10 a.m. Monday.
"When significant smoke and odor exists residents in Albuquerque area should avoid physical activity outdoors," the alert states. "People with heart or lung disease, older adults and children should remain indoors and keep activity levels low when they see or smell smoke.
"During periods of visible smoke or when the odor of smoke exists, the following actions are recommended, especially for individuals sensitive to particulate pollution:
Here are the latest updates on the major fires in and near New Mexico and health issues from various sources and New Mexico Fire Information :
Osha Fire, near Peñasco, N.M. (as of 9 p.m. June 2, 2011)
From U.S. Forest Service:
Crews were successful in constructing fire line and anchoring in the existing line that was started yesterday. Dozers began constructing line on the north end of the fire and air support concentrated on the eastern edge of the fire. Air support was essential to today’s success.
Several local volunteer fire departments are on scene to assist with structure protection. A strike team of structure protection resources are working along the NM Hwy 518 corridor.
The evacuation center that was set up at the Peñasco Community Center yesterday is now closed until further notice.
The Northern New Mexico Type 3 team will continue management of the fire through 6:00 p.m. tomorrow at which time the Clay Templin Arizona Central West Type 2 Incident Management Team will assume command of the fire. The Reinarz Southwest Incident Management Team has been reassigned to the 18,000 acre Wallow Fire in Arizona.
The surrounding communities will continue to be impacted by smoke for the rest of today and throughout the night. Any individuals with health concerns, especially those with respiratory or cardiovascular disease should limit their exposure. Any prolonged physical exertion should be avoided. If individuals develop symptoms that do not respond to their usual medications, they are advised to see their health care providers immediately.
Riverside Fire, 12 miles NE of Hondo, N.M. (as of 8 a.m. Friday June 3)
Observed fire activity yesterday was both minimal and very active. With the passing of thunderstorms, there was intermittent rain storms and and even hail was witnessed. That brief bit of moisture pacified the flaming front but the afternoon warming and drying conditions amplified the fire activity. Increased action on the west side of the fire was observed late last night.
Predicted Weather: Isolated showers and thunderstorms – gusty and erratic winds around thunderstorms – are forecasted for the burn period today.
Wallow Fire, near Alpine, Ariz., about 30 miles NW of Reserve, N.M. (as of 3 p.m.
Friday June 3)
From the New Mexico Department of Transportation:
Northbound US 180 is closed from mile marker 0-20 (From the Arizona State Line to Jct. US 180/NM 12 to Reserve) due to forest fire. Evacuations are currently in place for Alpine. AZ and on standby for Luna, NM. Please use NM 12 as an alternate route.
SPRINGERVILLE, Ariz. (AP) - The U.S. Forest Service says at least three summer rental cabins have burned in the Wallow wildfire in the White Mountains of eastern Arizona.
Eastern Arizona Incident Management Team spokesman Bill Bishop tells The Associated Press the cabins are located in the Beaver Creek area south of Alpine.
The Central Arizona Chapter of the American Red Cross says between three and six cabins burned along with one mobile home. Red Cross spokesman Mark Weldon says the homes were not occupied.
The U.S. Forest Service says the Wallow fire has burned 165 square miles.
At 106,000 acres, the Wallow fire has now become the fourth-largest wildfire in state history.
Arizona authorities issued this evacuation order at 6 p.m. Thursday:
Alpine Area Evacuees are requested to go to Blue Ridge High School in Pinetop-Lakeside, AZ, or to call and register with the Wallow Fire Joint Information Center if they go to a different location. Call 928-333-3412 to register.
The evacuation route is as follows: Take U.S. Highway 180 north to Springerville, then U.S. Highway 60 west to Show Low, then State Route 260 east to Pinetop-Lakeside. It is requested that you DO NOT TAKE State Route 260 west to Pinetop-Lakeside.
The northern evacuation route for residents of Blue, AZ is blocked. Residents of Blue should plan to take Forest Road 232 (Pueblo Park Road) into New Mexico.
An American Red Cross shelter has been established at:
Blue Ridge High School, 1200 West White Mountain Boulevard.
All evacuees are required to check in with Red Cross personnel after arrival. The shelter that has been established is a no-pet shelter.
For more information call: 928-333-3412 or call 593 from a landline or Cellular One cell phone.
Horseshoe 2 Fire, west of Rodeo, N.M.
A Red Flag Warning is in effect today from 12:00 to 8:00 p.m. due to high winds. Despite the concentrated effort of over one hundred hotshot firefighters, yesterday the fire crossed Rock Creek Canyon and, aided by strong winds and high flame lengths, the fire spotted over a mile and a half east towards Paradise. The Barfoot Lookout Tower and communication equipment in the area were destroyed by the fire, and crews were forced to disengage and shift to an indirect firefighting strategy.
The Cochise County Sheriff’s office has issued a mandatory evacuation order for the communities of Paradise, East Whitetail Canyon and the surrounding communities effective 6:00 pm, June 2, 2011.
Statement from Gila National Forest on lightning danger this weekend:
This year’s fire season started early in southwest New Mexico with several wildfires burning in various land jurisdictions; all human-caused. For this weekend, dry lightning is predicted from June 4th through 6th (Saturday, Sunday, and Monday) which compounds the problem on the Gila National Forest due to the extreme fire danger. Given current forest conditions, the chances for major fires will increase as dry lightning occurs.
The real danger with dry thunderstorms is that they cause most of the wildfires in the Southwest! Not only is there no rain to stop the fire, but dry thunderstorm winds can cause the fire to spread quickly. Summer afternoon thunderstorms are common over the mountains of the Southwest; often bringing cloud-to-ground lightning that can spark wildfires and strike individuals on the ground. These thunderstorms bring plenty of thunder and lightning but do not bring large amounts of rain. When rain does fall, it’s often very scattered – raining over the highest elevations, but hardly ever making it to the lower elevations and canyons.
Individuals that are outdoors whether at home or on the Forest need to be very careful when dry lightning strikes. Avoid mountain tops, high ground, or open areas by noon during the summer or when you begin to see storms develop. Dry lightning strikes are most likely to occur later in the afternoon through the early evening hours.
Lightning storm safety tips:
Most lightning strikes injuries and accidents can be prevented if caution is practiced during severe weather. When lightning is occurring around you in the outdoors, assume you are NOT safe and take the necessary safety precautions.
Miller Fire, Gila National Forest (as of 8 a.m. Friday June 3)
Fire behavior was minimal on the Miller Fire yesterday as crews staffed on the north side along the West Fork, south of Corral Canyon, and made good progress on spots on the west side of White Pinnacle, mopping up as aircraft assisted with bucket water drops.
Rehab activities will be ongoing along trails and areas impacted with respect to wilderness. Protective shields have been removed from White Cabin and Prior Cabin now that the Miller Fire is no longer a threat in that area.
Demobilization of fire crews and other resources continues as the NM Type 2 Incident Management Team will hand over management of the Miller Fire to a smaller Type 3 organization on Sunday, June 5.
Today firefighters continue to monitor and patrol for hot spots as some creeping heat still exists within the interior of the Miller Fire. The Miller Fire will be monitored by air and lookout. Less wind is expected today with some cloud cover. Minimal smoke is showing on the Miller Fire.
This will be the final update from the NM Incident Management Type 2 Team. An update will be provided by the incoming Type 3 Incident Management Team periodically as mop up and rehab work progresses on the Miller Fire.
The Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument and the Gila National Forest campgrounds along NM State Highway 15, north of the junction with state highway 35, are open to the public. The Heart Bar Wildlife Management area remains closed.
A number of trails within the Gila Wilderness in the vicinity of the West Fork of the Gila River are closed for public safety. Maps and notices of trail closures are posted throughout the area. The Gila National Forest is currently in Stage II Fire Restrictions.
Health and preparedness advisory from New Mexico Department of Health:
The New Mexico Department of Health is advising residents to take special precautions due to smoke and ash from several wildfires burning in New Mexico and Arizona.
Sensitive groups such as the elderly, small children or any individuals with respiratory or heart problems should leave the area where the smoke levels are high until the smoke dissipates or stay inside as much as possible. People with chronic respiratory or heart disease are also urged not to use swamp coolers as they will pull the smoke inside.
Air quality conditions associated with smoke are especially important for people with underlying health conditions such as asthma, emphysema, and cardiovascular disease. If symptoms associated with these conditions do not respond to the usual recommended medications, people are advised to see a health care provider immediately.
“Smoke can hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system, and intensify chronic heart and lung problems and people with heart disease may experience chest pain, rapid heartbeat, and shortness of breath or fatigue,” said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Catherine Torres. “If there is smoke nearby, remain indoors and close doors and windows to limit smoke inhalation. Also be sure you have the medicines needed for your chronic heart or lung problems.”
The Department of Health recommends using a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter on air conditioners to reduce breathing problems. A HEPA filter may reduce the number of irritating fine particles in indoor air. When smoke levels are high, do not use anything that burns, such as candles, fireplaces, or gas stoves. Do not vacuum because vacuuming stirs up particles already inside your home.
The Air Quality Bureau of the New Mexico Environment Department operates monitors at multiple locations around the state. These monitors gather information about air quality conditions and help to keep the public informed.
Data from these monitors can be found at http://air.nmenv.state.nm.us/ . The Forest Service also operates
some equipment monitors in New Mexico near specific wildfires. Data from these monitors is available at http://www.satguard.com/usfs/default.asp
In areas without air quality monitoring equipment, visibility can serve as a good substitute in determining air quality. The following chart includes guidelines for determining air quality from visibility.
The procedure for making personal observation to determine smoke concentrations in as follows:
To stay safe from wildfires the Department of Health recommends the following:
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