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Wildfire Smoke Advisory issued for Utah County as crews battle blaze on nearly 70,000 acres

UTAH COUNTY -- The Utah County Health Department has issued a Wildfire Smoke Advisory Friday amid increased particulates from a pair of fires that have merged into one massive blaze.

As of Friday morning, the Pole Creek and Bald Mountain fires are burning on a combined 68,347 acres, and hundreds of people have been evacuated. 

The health department says "If visibility is less than five miles in smoke in your neighborhood, smoke has reached levels that are unhealthy."

The health department said people with heart or lung issues, older adults and children are at the greatest risk due to the poor air quality, and they provided a list of guidelines for minimizing risk:

What to do during times of poor air quality:

  • Avoid heavy outdoor exertion such as running or other forms of exercise during advisories.
  • Keep your indoor air clean and stay indoors.
    • Close your doors and windows and turn off systems that ventilate air from outside in (especially in the early morning when air patterns shift and smoke can enter the home).
    • You can run your air conditioner if you have one, but keep the fresh-air intake closed and the filter clean.
      • If you do not have an air conditioner and it’s too warm to stay inside without your swamp cooler on or windows closed, seek shelter at a designated evacuation area or with a friend or family member with a closed air circulation system.
  • Avoid activities that increase indoor pollution. Keep your indoor air as clean as possible during a smoke advisory.
    • Do not vacuum. It stirs up dust in your home.
    • Do not smoke tobacco in your home.
    • Do not burn candles, fireplaces or gas stoves.
  • Don’t rely on dust masks for protection.
    • Paper masks commonly found at hardware stores are designed to trap large particles, like sawdust. They won’t protect your lungs from the small particles found in wildfire smoke.
  • Contact your health care provider if you’re concerned about your health.
  • If you are having problems breathing, contact your doctor or go to the closest Emergency Department immediately.
  • Check the air quality daily using Utah DEQ’s “UtahAir” app (available for Android and IOS).
  • Central air is preferred over swamp coolers.
  • Use the “recirculating air” setting in your car.
  • Change the air cabin filter in your car.
  • Consider purchasing standing air cleaners (available at Target, Walmart, Amazon and other retailers).
  • Make sure you’re signed up for emergency notifications at: utahcounty.gov/alerts

The health department also tweeted out tips of how to wear masks for protection from wildfire smoke: