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Hazy skies in Four Corners caused by out-of-state fires

Smoke drifting in from wildfires in Arizona, Utah
Courtesy of U.S. Forest Service

Southwest Colorado experienced hazy skies for the first half of the week as a result of wildfires burning in Arizona and Utah, according to the National Weather Service.

AirNow, a partnership between governmental agencies, detected a smoke plume Monday drifting over the Four Corners. Air quality was still good in the area, according to AirNow, but hot, dry weather this week could keep the smoke around and fire danger high.

The Telegraph Fire southeast of Phoenix had burned 123,078 acres and was 68% contained as of Tuesday, according to InciWeb. However, the smoke is likely coming from a variety of sources, including the Pack Creek Fire outside Moab, said Michael Charnick, National Weather Service meteorologist. That fire had burned 8,243 acres and was 16% contained as of Tuesday, according to InciWeb.

“It’s still going to be extremely hot and extremely dry through the middle of the week so we want to encourage everyone to still follow fire safety guidelines,” Charnick said.

The National Weather Service had not issued a red flag warning for the region because winds are forecast to be below 25 mph through the middle of the week. Red flag warnings are issued based on humidity, wind speed and fuel conditions.

The upper area of the San Juan National Forest, including northern La Plata County, had a high fire danger. The lower area, including southern La Plata County, had an extreme fire danger rating.

Several governmental agencies enacted fire restrictions this week in Southwest Colorado, including the San Juan National Forest Service, La Plata County and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe.

“Drought has a firm grip on Southwest Colorado so please always practice fire safety precautions to prevent human-caused fires,” the Forest Service said on its website.

smullane@durangoherald.com

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