Smoke from Arizona wildfire drifts into area

Thomas Garcia

The smell of smoke and the light haze reported in several areas in Quay County Tuesday was from the Wallow wildfire in eastern Arizona, according to Tucumcari Fire Chief Mike Cherry.

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

The Wallow fire has burned more than 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. 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 it has now reached Quay County.

The smoke conditions 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 weather service Meteorologist Todd Shoemake.

Shoemake said winds today are expected to be out of the southwest at 25-30 mph with gusts of up to 40 mph.