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Sunday, June 12, 2011

When Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (And Nose, Throat, And Lungs)


Arizona is always thought of as a desert state. But, much of the eastern portion of the state consists of large forests on the western side of a mountain range. On the other side of that mountain range is the sparsely populated areas of western New Mexico, and include the Gila National Forest. Three weeks ago, human caused fires broke out in the Apache National Forest and the Coronado National Forest areas. Due to the fact that we have high heat and winds, and have had no rain in over 7 months, these fires have spread spectacularly. The Wallow fire in Apache is now the largest fire in Arizona history. It has crossed into New Mexico, and will soon threaten the entire Gila National Forest. The Horseshoe two fire in Coronado is now the 4th largest fire in Arizona history. For two weeks, the folks in northern New Mexico have been eating smoke from the Wallow fire. Albuquerque has been especially hit due to the fact that the air gets trapped in Albuquerque like a bowl inside of mountain ranges. Similar effect that Salt Lake City gets in Utah. Down here in the boot heel, we are getting smoke from the horseshoe two fire. This fire is approximately 50% contained, and if the fire keeps spreading east, it runs out of forest about 20 miles from the New Mexico line. On the other hand, The Wallow fire, which is only 5% contained, is just inside of New Mexico, and if it crosses over the mountains at ten thousand feet, it will have access to 500,000 acres of forest that represents about twenty percent of the land mass of New Mexico. Since monsoon season is still at least three weeks away, there is no potential for rain to help quell the fires. For the last three days, I have been running in some smoke haze at sundown. Looks pretty but tastes bad. Hard on the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. The environmental folks say if you can see for three miles, it is bad, but not too dangerous to your health. That has been the case here. In Albuquerque, after two weeks of soot, the particles are much smaller than the size of a human hair, and doctors say it gets trapped in you lungs and can cause a lot of serious lung issues. I have always had trouble with smoke, and have gotten sick a number of times after sitting around a fire. It makes my asthma go bonkers. The winds over the next two days are the usual southwest winds. For tuesday thru thursday, they turn to the northwest. Don't know if that will bring wallow smoke down, or push horseshoe smoke below us, or give us a combination cocktail of smoke. Had an excellent week of 33 miles this week, but if necessary, will try and stay in the gym to run if we get a lot of smoke. Trying to get to the starting line of these senior games is just getting crazy. I cant help but link the fact that Sarah the devil moved to Arizona just a few months ago, and finished her rolling menace tour and came home to destroy the west. HHHmmmnnnnn!

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