The New Mexico Department of Health and the New Mexico Environment Department issued a smoke alert Monday (June 7) in response to residual smoke from ongoing wildfires in Arizona.
The Telegraph and Mezcal fires east of Phoenix have been burning since the beginning of June, and smoke can now be seen throughout the Taos Valley and much of New Mexico. The fires have burned over 100,000 acres in Arizona so far.
According to a press release from the two departments, the smoke is expected to impact northwestern and central New Mexico most heavily, with smoke becoming more pronounced overnight, and likely visible throughout the week.
The most heavily impacted communities are those on the northwestern side of the state: Farmington, Gallup, Navajo Nation, and other surrounding areas. Albuquerque and Santa Fe metropolitan areas will also be affected.
Precautions are being urged, such as closing windows, turning off swamp coolers, and more to help protect the most vulnerable populations. Those with pre-existing conditions like asthma, lung disease, heart disease, or COVID-19 may be more susceptible to side effects from the smoke.
The departments urged people to use the “5-3-1 method” for gauging how intense wildfire smoke is. If the visibility is under five miles, the air quality is considered unhealthy for “young children, adults over age 65, pregnant women, and people with heart and/or lung disease, asthma or other respiratory illness,” and outdoor activity should be minimal.
If the visibility is less than three miles, the same groups remain the most susceptible, and all outdoor activities should be avoided. If visibility is less than one mile, people should remain indoors at all times, even avoiding errands.