Fort Collins had the worst air quality in Colorado much Saturday, but it’s not from a local wildfire


The good news is it’s not a local wildfire that’s causing all that smoke in Northern Colorado.

Air quality plummeted Saturday as wildfire smoke took over the Front Range. Despite a small fire beginning northwest of Fort Collins (more on that later) on Friday, the smoke is coming from afar.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • An AQI below 100 is generally considered acceptable.
  • AQI of 101-150 is “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” according to
  • AQI of 151-200 is “unhealthy,” and outdoor activity should be reduced.
  • AQI of 201-300 is “very unhealthy.” 

How bad is it in Fort Collins Saturday? As of 11:30 a.m. the city (and Rocky Mountain National Park) had the worst AQI in the state at 180. By 2:30 p.m. Fort Collins was at 165 AQI and was no longer the worst air quality in the state.

By 8 p.m. Saturday the AQI in Fort Collins had dipped below 100.

The Colorado Department of Health issued a warning for poor air quality for the Front Range, set to last until at least 4 p.m. Saturday.

The National Weather Service says smoke will continue to push into the region through Saturday, but a bit of relief might come Sunday.

The smoke is mostly contributed to the Dixie Wildfire, one of the largest wildfires in California history. Multiple other fires in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia in Canada are also contributing factors.

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Halligan Fire update

Lightning sparked a small fire just east of Halligan Reservoir (northwest of Highway 287 and County Road 80C) on Friday evening, according to the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office.

The fire was 7.5 acres as of Friday night, the sheriff’s office said in a Facebook post. Crews were mopping up when they had to leave due to storms Friday, “but all was looking good,” the sheriff’s office wrote. The Livermore Fire Protection District now has command of the fire and is monitoring it through the weekend, according to the post.

For subscribers:Commutes in Northern Colorado are getting longer. Here’s why, and what it means for air quality.

Safety recommendations 

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issues air quality advisories every day, including information on wildfire smoke, ozone levels as well as other contributing factors. 

People are advised to keep in mind air quality changes throughout the day, especially as temperatures increase. 

Listen to your body

Head indoors if you’re having difficulty breathing or feel any respiratory irritation, such as shortness of breath or a sore throat. 

If your air conditioning is off, turn it on

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises people in smoke-affected areas to close doors and windows and run the AC with the fresh-air intake closed. 

A dust mask won’t help 

Instead of keeping things out, the masks trap small particles from wildfire smoke. 

Take extra care for sensitive groups 

Children, elderly and people with preexisting conditions sensitive to air conditions are more likely to be bothered by lowered air quality. 

Is there a fire near me?:Track currently burning Colorado smoke and wildfires on this map.

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