Saturday, June 11, 2011
Health Conditions Worsen as AZ Fire Spreads
SPRINGERVILLE, Ariz. (AP) -- Smoke from a massive wildfire in eastern Arizona that has claimed more than 30 homes and forced nearly 10,000 people to flee has officials worried about serious health impacts to residents and firefighters as tiny particles of soot in the air reached "astronomical" levels.
"It was off the charts," Mark Shaffer of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality said Friday night.
Calmer winds helped firefighters gain some ground, but also concentrated the sooty air, keeping it stagnate and raising pollution to levels officials hadn't seen yet since the blaze began several weeks ago.
"We've got a serious potential health problem on our hands," Shaffer said. "When you get levels like this, it's off the map."