Smoke from wildfires burning in Colorado and Wyoming blanketed the Taos Valley Wednesday afternoon (Sept. 30), according to officials.
One fire is the Cameron Peak Fire that has been burning in Colorado since Aug. 13. By Wednesday it was estimated at more than 125,000 acres and was 22 percent contained, according to information provided on Inciweb, which tracks wildfires around the country. The cause of the fire remains unknown and fire managers estimate it will take until the end of October to fully contain the blaze.
Smoke also reached Taos from the Mullen Fire in southern Wyoming, which was first reported Sept. 17 and has spread rapidly. By Wednesday, the fire was nearing 97,000 acres and several communities were under mandatory evacuation orders, according to Inciweb.
The U.S. Forest Service announced earlier this month that fire managers would take advantage of favorable moisture levels, air quality and winds to implement prescribed burns in the Canjilon, El Rito and Questa ranger districts of Carson National Forest. The fires have been planned between Sept. 23 and Oct. 31, according to a news release from the forest service. But those prescribed burns had not yet begun and did not contribute to smoke in the Taos Valley Wednesday, according to Carson National Forest spokesperson Javonne Goodman.
"A high priority of these prescribed burns will be to minimize smoke impacts to the surrounding communities by utilizing any available Emissions Reduction Techniques (ERTs)," the release reads.
Prescribed burns are designed to mimic natural wildfires to reduce forest fuels, recycle nutrients and increase habitat diversity.
People with health conditions and sensitive to smoke should stay indoors when possible until the air clears. Find more information about air quality at the New Mexico Department of Health Environmental at Public Health Tracking.
Assistant Editor John Miller contributed to this report.
Correction: Carson National Forest said prescribed burns planned for the Valle Vidal had not yet begun Wednesday and were not a contributing factor to the smoke.