Air quality could improve in Garfield County as moisture system rolls in mid-week |

Air quality could improve in Garfield County as moisture system rolls in mid-week

Small fire north of Grand Junction adding to decreased air quality

Smoke filling the Roaring Fork Valley on Monday could continue to degrade air quality in the area through Tuesday evening, the National Weather Service advised.

“The vast majority of this smoke is coming from California and fires burning to the west,” NWS Meteorologist Brianna Bealo said. “We have due-westerly winds higher up in the atmosphere, which are pushing the smoke into the region.”

While the worst smoke moving across the nation are north of Garfield County, air quality monitors along the Interstate 70 corridor are reporting moderate air conditions with Air Quality Index ratings ranging from 60 in Rifle to 76 in Glenwood Springs, according to, a partnership of federal, state and local air quality agencies. AirNow ranks the air quality throughout Garfield County as moderate and advises people with smoke sensitivity to avoid the outdoors when possible.

Bealo said the smoke could decrease Tuesday afternoon as a weather system moves into the area, bringing the potential for significant precipitation across the Western Slope.

“We’ll be getting a bit of moisture boost from what’s left of Tropical Storm Nora in Mexico,” Bealo said. “But for the most part, this is the monsoonal moisture that is typical for the season.”

On Sunday, the Bureau of Land Management reported fire crews were dispatched to the Wild Horse Fire about 10 miles north of Grand Junction, which Bealo said could contribute to Garfield County’s poorer-than-average air quality Monday — although, she emphasized the bulk of the smoke was from larger fires west of Colorado.

As of Monday, the Wild Horse Fire was about 95 acres, a BLM spokesperson said, but the fire was not expected to grow larger.

“We don’t have containment numbers yet, but we expect the fire to be contained by Sept. 1,” said Dan Ben-Horin, who works with the BLM’s Upper Colorado River Fire Management Unit.

Supported by local fire management units, five engines and two crews are currently battling the blaze, which is registered at a Type 4 complexity level, Ben-Horin said.

“The topography in the area is prohibitive to fire growth,” he said, explaining the fire started in a canyon east of Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Range.

Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at

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