If you’re seeing smoke this weekend in the foothills west of Fort Collins, fear not.
Smoke visible in Fort Collins is due to a prescribed burn the U.S. Forest Service is conducting in the Poudre Canyon.
Firefighters on Saturday successfully burned 500 acres of the Elkhorn-Pingree Hill Prescribed Burn, the forest service posted on Facebook. Smoke and small flames will continue to be visible in the area. Firefighters are continuing to monitor the burn site Saturday and Sunday, when precipitation is expected in the area.
Due to firefighters needing to ignite some areas near Colorado Highway 14, the road was down to one lane in the burn area for several hours. As of 5 p.m. Colorado 14 was open in two directions again.
On Friday, 150 acres were burned in the area. This weekend’s operations follow some burns in the area earlier this month, when 550 acres were burned.
“Prescribed burning is an effective way to help restore forest health and reduce the risk of high-severity wildfires,” according to a news release from the Canyon Lakes Ranger District. “Appropriate conditions must be met before ignition of prescribed burns can take place. Fire managers are carefully monitoring these conditions, including a favorable weather forecast (temperature, wind, precipitation, etc.), fuel moisture, smoke dispersal and staffing. Weather is monitored throughout the burn and burning will be halted if conditions fall outside of the required conditions.”
In ideal conditions, more than 500 acres could be burned in one day, with approximately 15 firefighters working on the burn’s perimeter initially.
The Pingree Hill portion of the burn is located northeast of Rustic at the intersection of Colorado 14 and Pingree Hill Road, south of Kelly Flats Road and is 1,913 acres. Firefighters burned portions of Pingree Hill in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018, according to the Canyon Lakes Ranger District.
The Elkhorn Prescribed Burn is located approximately 2 miles northwest of Rustic, south of Sevenmile Road, above the Arrowhead Visitor Center and is 2,191 acres. No burning has previously taken place on the Elkhorn portion of this project.
For updates on the burn, visit: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4727/
How to protect your health from wood smoke
Most healthy people have no more than minor and short-term health difficulties with wood smoke. However, excessive smoke can result in unhealthy or hazardous air quality. If smoke is affecting your health, contact your doctor or other health professional. Also, try to move to a place with cleaner air and follow the tips below.
- Close windows and doors and stay indoors. However, do not close up your home tightly if it makes it dangerously warm inside.
- Be extra vigilant at night. Nighttime the air is usually more still than during the day and smoke can be worse. Smoke in nighttime air often flows down valleys and settles in low lying areas. Close windows at night.
- Filter your air by running your air conditioner or evaporative cooler, but only if the system is filtered. You may also run the fan on your home heating system, with the heat turned off, if the system is filtered. Keep the outdoor air intake closed and be sure the filter is clean. Running these appliances if they are not filtered can make indoor smoke worse.
- Use HEPA room air filtration units if you have them.
- Avoid exercise or other strenuous activities in heavy smoke.
- Do not rely on commercially-available dust masks, which do virtually nothing to filter out the particles and gasses in smoke.
- Consider temporarily locating to another area if it is safe to do so. Seek out locations where air is filtered such as malls, movie theaters or recreation centers.
- Be prepared to evacuate by planning ahead. Plan your evacuation route and your destination. Put together a kit that contains medications and other important items that you can’t be without.
Who is most likely to be affected by smoke?
- Elderly people
- Young children (especially under 7)
- Pregnant women
- People with pre-existing respiratory or circulatory conditions like asthma, emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cardiovascular disease
- People with respiratory infections such as colds or flus.
- People with smoke allergies, although this is rare.
What are symptoms related to smoke exposure?
- Eye, nose and/or throat irritation–runny eyes and/or nose
- Coughing, sore throat
- Trouble breathing or tightness of the chest, which may be symptoms of a health emergency
- The onset of symptoms related to pre-existing respiratory ailments like asthma or emphysema
- Weakened immune system after prolonged exposure to smoke.
Source: Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
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