Mesa County remains under an Air Quality Alert for Wildfire Smoke in the region due to the Pine Gulch Fire. Significant fire growth, dry conditions, and strong winds have resulted in air quality conditions measured in the orange, or Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (USG), category for the past several days. Conditions are not expected to immediately improve.
Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) is closely monitoring conditions alongside an air quality team assigned to the fire through the incident management team. The forecast for Friday and into the weekend shows winds from the northwest which will bring durations of heavy smoke and periods of unhealthy conditions through communities including Fruita, Loma, Grand Junction, Clifton, and De Beque. As it has in previous days, heavy smoke could linger in the valley into the overnight hours. Valleys are prone to trapping smoke and other conditions at the surface, and therefore are typically the last to clear out.
We recognize air quality at these levels for this period of time is concerning, especially with concerns about COVID-19 and respiratory illness associated with it. All residents should monitor their health and contact a health care provider with any severe or concerning symptoms, including difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
The Pine Gulch fire currently does not pose an evacuation threat to communities in the Grand Valley. Emergency Managers are monitoring conditions for the health and safety of our community and will issue an evacuation notice if conditions warrant. Sign up for Emergency Alerts to be notified about an evacuation through the Regional Communication Center here.
All groups should avoid heavy exertion outdoors during periods of heavy smoke. Sensitive groups should remain in a clean air space indoors to the greatest extent possible. Sensitive groups include:
- People with asthma
- People with heart or lung disease
- Adults 65 years and older
- Children and teens less than 18 years
- Pregnant women
Monitoring conditions around you can provide information to help inform decisions. Check community-sourced Purple Air monitors to see recent air quality readings in an area near you. A link is provided on the MCPH website.