Smoke filled the skies around the Colorado and Roaring Fork River valleys Wednesday, but it wasn’t from any area wildfires.
Andrea Holland, a public information officer for the White River National Forest, said the smoke had drifted from fires burning in the Pacific Northwest. She said officials had taken calls from as far east as Vail and Aspen, wondering where the smoke originated.
The Idaho State Journal in Pocatello reported that most of the blazes in eastern Idaho were caused by lightning from a series of thunderstorms Monday with 60 mph winds, half-inch hail and brief but heavy downpours of rain. Firefighters were bracing for additional blazes because the wildfire threat level is expected to remain extremely high for the rest of the week.
Even bigger fires in Oregon and British Columbia were creating haze across Idaho, the Idaho Statesman in Boise said.
In Garfield County, though, despite thunderstorms with lightning Tuesday, Holland said no new fires had been reported.
Agricultural burns in the region were too small to cause the smoke concentrations seen along the Colorado River Valley.
The jet stream pushing smoke into western Colorado is expected to move east in the next few days, lifting the blanket of smoke with it, Holland said.
Air quality monitors operated by Garfield County indicate that smoke concentrations are well below standards for particulate matter. People who are sensitive to smoke and experiencing discomfort are encouraged to consult with their doctor and to minimize their exposure. Those precautions include limiting outside activity and closing windows during smoky periods.
More information on wildfire smoke and health can be found on the Colorado State Public Health Department’s website: http://www.colorado.gov/airquality/wildfire.aspx.