Smoke prompts health advisory

Residents – especially those prone to respiratory problems – should be cautious of potential health risks related to smoke from two nearby fires.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Regional Air Quality Council issued a wildfire smoke health advisory for the Weber Fire on Sunday, which is burning southeast of Mancos.

The advisory warned of moderate to locally heavy smoke near Mancos and Cortez, and said smoke would move southwest, west and northwest Sunday evening and this morning.

Meanwhile Sunday, at the State Line Fire burning near the Colorado-New Mexico line, two firefighters were treated by medics for smoke inhalation, Dave Imming, spokesman for Durango Fire & Rescue Authority said.

Imming warned of the danger related to smoke exposure.

“For people with respiratory illnesses, smoke is definitely going to cause serious problems,” he said. “Smoke can trigger an asthma attack or bronchitis – smoke is definitely an irritant.”

An emergency room nurse at Mercy Regional Medical Center said there hadn’t been many complaints of smoke-related respiratory issues Sunday, but recommended people prone to respiratory issues stay indoors with the air conditioner on, take any usual medications and stay hydrated.

Cindi Shank, director of the Southwest Colorado Chapter of the American Red Cross, said the Red Cross moved its check-in center from Mancos to Cortez on Sunday in part because of health concerns related to smoke in the area. Shank said she had not heard any complaints relating to smoke inhalation while checking in evacuees Sunday.

People who have pre-existing respiratory or circulatory conditions, respiratory infections or smoke allergies are most likely to be affected, as are elderly people, children and pregnant women, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Air Pollution Control Division.

Where visibility is less than five miles, strenuous physical activity should be avoided, said Mark Salley, a spokesman for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in Denver.

People experiencing irritated eyes or coughing should try to leave the area, Salley said.

Information about symptoms related to wildfire smoke and what you can do is available at www.colorado.gov/airquality/wildfire.aspx.

For an updated Colorado air-quality summary and information on wildfire smoke health advisories visit www.colorado.gov/airquality/colorado_summary.aspx.

scook@durangoherald.com

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