Fire's smoke clouds Northwest skies - Tucson Local Media: Pima Pinal

Fire's smoke clouds Northwest skies

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Posted: Tuesday, June 16, 2009 11:00 pm

Smoke from an apparently human-caused fire southwest of Tucson has affected skies in greater Tucson, prompting the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality and the American Lung Association of Arizona to issue a smoke advisory.

People who are sensitive to smoke are urged to take appropriate precautions, a release said.

The Elk Horn Fire has burned approximately 11,000 acres of ground 50 miles southwest of Tucson, near the Baboquivari Peak Wilderness Area. It started last Thursday afternoon.

Crews had achieved 12 percent containment of the fire by early Tuesday morning, a release said. It is expected to burn for several more days, and may release more visible smoke while crews use aerial ignition as needed in "burnout" operations, a release said.

With more smoke in the air, individuals with respiratory or heart disease and the elderly may experience respiratory symptoms, the county agency said. "If individuals are sensitive to particulate pollution, they may want to reduce their exposure to outside air. Smoke levels tend to be higher in the early morning hours due to temperature inversions. This advisory will be in effect while current conditions persist."

There were 195 firefighters on the blaze Monday morning. To date, two injuries have been documented. A firefighter had an allergic reaction to a bee sting, requiring a brief hospitalization. He has since been released and is resting at home. Another individual had a minor knee sprain but has been treated and is back on the line.

The fire began on state lands. Several agencies are managing it. The area is known for its very steep, rugged terrain, and it has been deemed unsafe to implement direct suppression measures in these areas, the release continued.

The cause is under investigation.

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