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San Xavier Co-op hay fire triggers air quality alert

Posted at 10:03 AM, Oct 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-03 10:27:54-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — The Pima County Department of Environmental Quality has issued an air quality alert for particulate matter due to a fire that burned 5,000 bales of hay near the San Xavier Mission Wednesday night.

The PDEQ issued the warning Wednesday morning and said those in the west and southwest parts of the Tucson metro area should use particular caution.

The PDEQ says anyone that can smell smoke is breathing smoke, and should limit outdoor activity accordingly. Officials say those who are sensitive to changes in air quality -- those with heart disease or respiratory sensitivities -- should avoid outside exercise.

A news release from the PDEQ explains the particulate matter accordingly:

"Particulate matter is made up of tiny specks of soot, dust, and aerosols that are suspended in the air we breathe. Particulate matter can come from combustion (cars, industry, structural fire, wildfire and fireplace smoke) and dust from disturbed land that becomes airborne with high winds."

You can check up-to-the-hour pollution levels on the PDEQ website.

An earlier version of this story included a higher estimate from authorities about the number of hay bales burned.