Arizona wildfires prompt Colorado smoke warning

DENVER - Smoke from a large wildfire burning in the scenic mountain towns of eastern Arizona stretched into nearby states, creating hazy conditions in Iowa and prompting officials to issue health advisories Tuesday for the southern half of Colorado.

Click here for a map of smoke coverage from the Wallow Fire.

The 365-square-mile blaze has been burning in ponderosa forests for more than a week, destroying five buildings since it started May 29. It marched north Monday, aided by wind gusts of more than 60 mph.

The weather settled down overnight, but the crews and their commanders know what's in store.
"The bad news is it's supposed to pick back up all the way through Thursday," Joe Reinarz, commander of the team battling the fire, told an auditorium packed with residents of the mountain vacation towns late Monday.

"We've got about three or four days ahead of us right now that are going to try all of us," he said before urging them to prepare for evacuations.

As the sun went down Monday, a huge pall of black smoke loomed over the twin towns of Eagar and Springerville, home to about 7,000 people. Haze from the fire was being carried by a ridge of high pressure as far as central Iowa, said Kyle Fredin, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Denver.

The smoke was also visible in New Mexico, Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas. Colorado health officials issued a smoke health advisory Tuesday, saying that the southern half of the state could see moderate to heavy smoke through noon.