A fire near the San Xavier Co-Op Farm has prompted the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality to issue an air pollution health watch.

Bales of hay, outbuildings and barns caught fire Tuesday near the farm, located near San Xavier and Interstate 19, and the smoke has the potential to raise particulate matter in the air we breathe.

Although current levels of particulates report in the “moderate” range on PDEQ’s air quality monitors, the presence of smoke can be highly localized and might not be captured by the monitors, according to the county.

PDEQ encourages at-risk individuals to be cautious and understand that if they can smell smoke, they are breathing smoke. If individuals with heart disease and respiratory sensitivities are near the fires or smell smoke they may want to reduce their level of exposure and exertion and avoid outside exercise to decrease the amount of particulates they breathe into their lungs. Visit PDEQ’s website for more information about protecting yourself from fire smoke.

PDEQ monitors air pollution in our region at 15 air quality monitoring sites. Up-to-the-hour air pollution levels are available online at the PDEQ website www.pima.gov/deq.

The public can sign up at www.pima.gov/deq to receive Air Quality Advisories and other Pima County Department of Environmental Quality notices directly via email.

Green Valley Fire District Operations Chief Joey Kosiorowski said GVFD firefighters were on hand Tuesday night to help other fire agencies, if needed, but are no longer at the scene. The fire is expected to burn for days.

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