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Ongoing coverage of the Lake Christine Fire from Aspen Public Radio News

Air Quality Specialists Join Firefight

Two air quality specialists have joined the team fighting the Lake Christine Fire. They are essentially smoke forecasters, here to keep people as safe and smoke-free as possible.  

The Lake Christine Fire has burned nearly 12,000 acres, but the smoke has a bigger footprint. It has affected people in Aspen and Glenwood Springs, all the way to Minturn.

On Wednesday morning, the air quality in El Jebel was rated “unhealthy,” meaning anyone exercising or walking around could be impacted, not just the very young and elderly.

John Cook is one of the air quality specialists. He said as temperatures cooled the night before, smoke rolled downhill, into the valley. Once the sun hit it in the morning, the air heated up, and winds moved the smoke up and out.

Cook and his teammate use models and work with meteorologists to predict how much smoke there will be and where it’s headed.

"Then say, OK, for the next day-and-a-half, two days, this specific area downwind is going to be impacted at a certain level," he said.

Their findings will be used by local governments to make sure people know beforehand if a whole lot of smoke is headed their way.

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