Smoke settles in foothills

Apr 012004
Authors: Adrienne Hoenig

CSU students can breathe deeply – at least for now.

The smoke from the Picnic Rock wildfire is not causing any

health problems in Fort Collins yet.

“It doesn’t look like there’s too much of a haze around the

campus,” said Jerry Blehm, environmental health director for

Larimer County. “It looks like it’s cleared up an awful lot.”

Those who suffer from allergies or asthma may be affected before

healthy individuals by the smoke drifting over Fort Collins. These

ailments can cause people’s airways to be easily inflamed.

“For most people this will be more of an irritant, but for

people with asthma, it could cause some respiratory problems,” said

Lynn Kalert, a nurse in the allergy and asthma clinic at Hartshorn

Health Service. “People that do have easily irritable airways, they

need to stay indoors.”

Jacob Benson, a junior speech communication major, does not have

any allergies or asthma. But his roommates do, and he has seen the

smoke affecting them.

“It hasn’t bothered me at all,” Benson said. “My roommates got a

bunch of allergies because of it.”

If any, the smoke’s effects on healthy individuals could include

watery eyes, coughing and sneezing, Blehm said.

Hartshorn Health Service and Poudre Valley Health System had not

seen an increase in respiratory cases as of Thursday afternoon.

The Picnic Rock Fire began Tuesday night and has since spread to

nearly 2,000 acres. Smoke has settled near the Foothills, with the

wind carrying it south Thursday afternoon.

“It just depends on the wind,” Blehm said. “It’s all really

variable just depending on where you are.”

However, a change in wind direction could mean a change in the

air quality in Fort Collins. The more smoke that finds its way into

town, the more careful residents need to be, Blehm said.

“People need to start being careful,” he said. “Maybe start

thinking about not doing real strenuous activities, spending more

time indoors.”

Staying inside may be the only way to avoid the smoke, Kalert


“Stay indoors, keep the windows closed, avoid it,” she said.

“Hopefully, the fire will be out soon and the air will push this


Amanda Smiley, a senior liberal arts student, has not noticed

the smoke much around campus, but said she is definitely aware of

it settling in the distance.

“It’s just kind of a bummer to see all the haze,” Smiley


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