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Wildfires pushing smoke across state

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Smoke from wildfires burning in New Mexico is traveling far beyond the flame’s boundaries.

Residents of Albuquerque have received intermittent smoky reminders of the Buzzard Fire in the Gila National Forest – which neared 25,000 acres on Friday – as it continues to tear through the dry landscape in southwest New Mexico.

According to the city’s Environmental Health Department, there were “moderate” levels of fine and coarse particulate matter, which can be caused by smoke, on Friday.

Jeff Stonesifer, the department’s staff meteorologist, said particulate levels in the city, especially in south Albuquerque, spiked for a couple hours late Thursday night, blown in from the Buzzard Fire.

Smoke from the smaller Ute Park Fire isn’t currently affecting Albuquerque.

“There’s plenty of smoke coming off it, but it’s heading to the northeast,” Stonesifer said.

Stonesifer said a “backdoor front” of humid air and possible storms are forecasted for tonight and Sunday morning, which may slow the blazes’ spread.

Nearly all of the New Mexico Environment Department’s monitoring stations, largely clustered down the middle of the state, indicated good air quality on Friday afternoon.

Due to New Mexico’s low level of humidity, visibility during smoky conditions can be used to determine proper precautions to take.

According to the New Mexico Department of Health, once visibility is reduced to five miles, the elderly, young, pregnant and those with respiratory problems should minimize outdoor activity.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals reminded pet owners that animals can be equally affected by smoky conditions.

“Residents in areas affected by smoke and falling ash should keep animals indoors and avoid all outdoor activities, such as running with dogs,” PETA spokeswoman Brooke Rossi wrote in a Friday news release.