Wildfires in California and the Pacific Northwest have put the Pikes Peak region under a smoky cloud that could stick around for days.
Skies will be hazy in Colorado Springs for the next several days as smoke from wildfires burning along the West Coast moves in from the north, National Weather Service Meteorologist Pamela Evenson said. And it could become progressively worse.
Smoke is forecast to be thickest over northern Colorado and the Denver metro area, according to Gazette news partner KKTV.
The rest of the week is forecast to mirror Tuesday's sunshine and haze with temperatures in the low 80s and mild winds in the afternoons.
"A haze in front of the mountains will be likely," KKTV reported. "Rain chances still appear minimal for the week; plan on quite a bit of sunshine."
Wildfire smoke can cause lung irritation and inflammation, and can affect the immune system or increase the likelihood of lung infections such as the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Those who have or are recovering from COVID-19 might be at increased risk of health effects from exposure to wildfire smoke because of compromised heart and/or lung function related to the disease, the agency reported. Cloth masks will not protect against wildfire smoke, according to the CDC.
The agency recommends residents reduce exposure to wildfire smoke by seeking cleaner air spaces that can provide temporary relief from the haze, including libraries, museums, shopping malls and other indoor areas with effective particle filtration and air conditioning. The CDC provides guidelines on its website for how these spaces should be prepared to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The CDC also recommends limiting outdoor exercise when it is smoky outside or choosing lower-intensity activities to reduce smoke exposure; and using portable air filters and air conditioners, heat pumps, fans and window shades to protect from smoke and keep a home cool on hot days.
People should also avoid activities that create additional indoor and outdoor air pollution, such as frying foods, sweeping, vacuuming and using gas-powered appliances, the CDC recommends.
As smoke and ash from the West Coast settles over Colorado, wildfires continue burning in the western and northern parts of the state.
The Cameron Peak fire burning near Fort Collins remained at 102,596 acres with 4% contained Tuesday.
More than 1,000 firefighters are battling the blaze, now the fourth-largest wildfire in Colorado history. The fire has destroyed about 54 structures, including 25 homes, according to the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office.
Fire officials said Tuesday they were making good progress attacking direct fire lines on the east side of the fire. Helicopter operations are continuing to focus on two main hot spots, including above Colorado 14 in a section known as “the thumb.”
Firefighters Tuesday also worked along the western, northern and eastern perimeters of the fire to construct a boundary and box it in, according to an official update on Facebook.
The Pine Gulch fire near Grand Junction, the largest wildfire in Colorado history, remained at 139,007 acres and 95% contained Tuesday, unchanged for seven days.
Several days of rain and snow last week helped suppress the fire and there are no concerns about its behavior, growth or spread, Bureau of Land Management spokesman Eric Coulter said.
Local agencies took back command of the fire Saturday, he said.
The Grizzly Creek fire in Glenwood Canyon remained at 32,431 acres as of Tuesday, unchanged since fire officials updated its size Thursday. It remains 91% contained.
Fifty-five firefighters were battling that blaze and monitoring the Grizzly Creek and No Name Creek drainages where more smoke has been observed since weather warmed and conditions dried after the snowstorms last week.
“Many of these smokes are interior islands of unburned vegetation that are unlikely to spread outside of the burned perimeter,” according to a Tuesday Facebook post by fire officials.
Firefighters are also repairing damages from fire suppression along Transfer Trail and other areas, the post reported.