Smoke may continue to billow

Thomas Garcia

The smell of smoke and the light haze reported in several areas in Quay County Tuesday was the castover from the wild fire in eastern Arizona, said Tucumcari Fire Chief Mike Cherry.

Cherry said he was in Albuquerque, where he said the smoke conditions were strong.

The Wallow, Ariz. fire has burnt over 300,000 acres and has been labeled as the second largest fire in Arizona history, according to the Associated Press.

The fire began on May 29 and has burned 486 square miles and smoke has been carried as far as central Iowa, according to the AP.

Winds carried the smoke from the fire over the southwest and central portion of the state and now have reached Quay County.

The smoke conditions have prompted the New Mexico Department of Health and National Weather Service in Albuquerque to issue warnings to the public.

“People with pre existing health conditions such as asthma and emphysema are at risk,” said Victor Rodrigues, an emergency room physician Dan C. Trigg Memorial Hospital.

Rodrigues said residents with a type of bronchial diseases such as asthma or bronchitis should evacuate the area where the smoke is the strongest.

“Smoke can cause severe complications for bronchial patients,” Rodrigues said.

The smoke experienced in the Quay, Curry and Roosevelt areas should remain light due to the forecasted winds, said National Weather Service officials.

“The forecasted winds should keep the smoke north of Tucumcari,” said NWS Meteorologist Todd Shoemake.

Shoemake said Wednesday’s winds will be out of the southwest at 25-30 miles per hour with gusts of up to 40 miles per hour.

“The smoke conditions should remain light for the next two days,” Shoemake said. “The forecast does not show a shift in the winds.”

Rodrigues said even if the smoke conditions are light, some complications could arise.

“People with these health conditions and concerns should limit their time outside over the next few days,” Rodrigues said. “Make sure the windows and doors are closed and the outside air is not getting into the home.”

Rodrigues said coughing and irritation of the eyes and lungs could occur. He said a person should have their medications needed for their conditions handy.

“The medicines should help to relieve any symptoms they should develop,” Rodrigues said. “If the symptoms should persist, they should see their physician.”