The first big fire of the season started this week in Oak Creek Canyon- called the Slide fire. Smoke is usually the first public health impact from wildland fires. The air quality in Flagstaff and Sedona has been generally OK- but poor at times depending on the winds (smoke levels in Sedona have been high during the early morning hours the last couple of nights). Here’s a link to the data for the ADEQ’s portable air quality monitors in the area. The website includes hourly air quality data for East and West Flagstaff, Fort Tuthill, Camp Verde, Prescott, Sedona, Show Low, Springerville, and Payson.
We play a significant role in response where there are wildfires in Arizona. Our licensing folks monitor the need for evacuation of hospitals, assisted living and behavioral health facilities. Our environmental health folks work with the local health departments and the ADEQ to make decisions about health advisories related to smoke. Our emergency preparedness staff supports local public health for any support we can give to protect the health of people who need to be evacuated and in surrounding areas. You can read more in our Wildfire Smoke and Your Health brochure and in our ADHS Wildfire Plan.
Often these wildfires are started accidentally, being wind aided by external forces like blowers or just a naturally windy day. The ADHS Wildfire plan is a great starting point to learn more information.