Air Quality Alert, Red Flag Warnings Posted for Region

Posted by George Prentice on Sat, Jul 7, 2012 at 12:21 PM

Boise's oppressive heat comes with an additional challenge: unhealthy air conditions.

An air quality alert is in effect for today, one of a string of alerts that indicate an ever-increasing air quality index. Today's AQI is 59 and it creeps up to 65 by Monday, July 9. The higher AQI warnings also come with a ban of any open or outdoor burning in the City of Boise and Ada County.

Additionally, the National Weather Service Office in Boise has issued a red flag warning stretching across Southern Idaho, running until 9 p.m. this evening. Unstable air, including thunderstorm, abundant lightning and outflow winds of 30-50 mph are possible.

Fire officials will begin cracking down on open campfires on state and federal lands, beginning the morning of Monday, July 9. The last time a similar restriction was enforced on BLM lands in south-central Idaho was 2007. But starting Monday, July 9, building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire or stove fire will be restricted, except within a designated recreation site. Smoking will also be prohibited on state or federal lands unless you're in an enclosed vehicle or building. The new restrictions cover an area south of U.S. Highway 20 to the Utah and Nevada border. The area includes Twin Falls, Lincoln, Cassia Minidoka, Jerome and Gooding counties in addition to parts of Blaine, Camas, Oneida and Power counties.

Meanwhile, fire crews remain on the scene of the Ditto Fire, near the Elmore County town of Mayfield, which scorched more than 3,000 acres July 6. Air support is assisting teams from the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, Mountain Home fire and the Oasis Volunteer Fire Departments.

Due to the fire, a stretch of Interstate 84, between mileposts 71 and 74, has reduced visibility.

Fire officials say the fire was caused by humans.

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