Smoke from Poco Fire blows into Phoenix metro area, spawns Health Watch

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- The hazy air hovering over the Phoenix metro area Wednesday morning had many people asking questions and even prompted the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality issue a Health Watch.

While most initially though it was dust hovering in the air, that ugly haze is actually smoke from the 8,100-acre Poco Fire burning near Young. Light easterly winds overnight and into the early morning hours blew that smoke into the Valley.

3TV meteorologist April Warnecke said it was unexpected that smoke from the Rim Country would filter down to Phoenix. Mark Schafer of ADEQ agreed.

"It was a real curve ball," he said. "This one was a very strange meteorological occurrence."

The air has been clearing throughout the morning. Schafer said the air quality should be significantly better by the afternoon, which is why ADEQ issued a Health Watch rather than a High Pollution Advisory.

"Hopefully we'll have some relief here fairly soon," he said.

During the Health Watch:

•  Avoid activities that generate dust, such as driving on dirt roads.
•  Stabilize loose soils.
•  Eliminate fireplace and wood stove use.
•  Drive as little as possible: car pool, use public transit or telecommute.
•  Avoid using gas-powered lawn and garden equipment.
•  Those with sensitive respiratory systems should limit their time outdoors.