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Colorado skies are filled with smoke drifting from several wildfires. Photo Credit: Race Harrison.

Smoke from wildfires burning throughout the West is again filling the air above Colorado, turning the skies blood orange, obstructing mountain views, and creating "unhealthy" air quality for sensitive groups in some places.

"Expect skies to get hazier as wildfire smoke increases over the next 24 hours," forecasters from the National Weather Service (NWS) warned on Wednesday. "Air quality will deteriorate especially tonight."

According to, the air quality in Fort Collins and the Denver-Boulder area is considered "unhealthy for sensitive groups," with the Colorado Springs area expected to enter this level of air quality as the day progresses. As of 11 AM on Wednesday, the Fort Collins AQI was 116 and the Denver-Boulder area was at 111. The AQI index ranges from 0 to 500 with a score between 101 to 150 indicating unhealthy air quality for sensitive groups.

A number of other spots currently have moderate air pollution present, including Grand Junction and Greeley.

The NWS has activated several air quality alerts for wildfire smoke clouding the Front Range skies from Wednesday through early Thursday morning. 

One air quality alert is currently in effect from 7 AM on Wednesday to 4 PM, including the counties of Larimer, Weld, Boulder, Broomfield, Jefferson, Denver, Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas.   

This advisory warns of smoke being transported to the northern Front Range from both in-state and out-of-state wildfires, impacting several areas including Fort Collins, Greeley, Boulder, Broomfield, Golden, Denver, Brighton, Littleton, and Castle Rock. The Cameron Peak Fire is also expected to send plumes of smoke into the sky over parts of Larimer County, mainly along the Poudre River.

A second alert is currently in effect from 7 AM Wednesday to 9 AM Thursday, including the following counties and cities: Morgan, Logan, Sedgwick, Phillips, Washington, Yuma, Elbert, El Paso, Lincoln, Kit Carson, Cheyenne, Kiowa, Fort. Morgan, Sterling, Julesburg, Holyoke, Akron, Wray, Kiowa, Limon, Colorado Springs, Hugo, Burlington, Cheyenne Wells, and Eads.

This alert predicts an increase of wildfire smoke spreading south and southwest towards the I-70 and I-25 corridors. Smoke from these out-of-state fires is set linger through at least early Thursday morning.

Public health recommendations suggest staying indoors, limiting outdoor activity, and keeping doors and windows closed. This is especially true for individuals with heart disease, respiratory illnesses, very young children as well as older adults.

See up-to-date conditions around Colorado here.

Breanna Sneeringer writes about news, adventure, and more for OutThere Colorado as a Digital Content Producer. She is an avid adventure seeker and wildflower enthusiast. Breanna joined OutThere Colorado in September 2018.


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