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Woke up and smelled the smoke? The Colorado Dept. of Public Health is investigating what’s causing it

Source likely coming from prescribed burns near Lake George, fire officials say
strong smoke sell likely coming from prescribed burn.jpg
Posted at 10:09 AM, Oct 19, 2022

DENVER — If you live in the metro area, you more than likely woke up to a strong smell of smoke.

People in Highlands Ranch, Littleton, Centennial, parts of Denver and those close to Roxborough Park reported “a strong smoke smell” early Wednesday morning.

They weren’t the only ones.

Both South Metro and West Metro Fire Rescue officials told Denver7 they’ve been getting reports of haze and a strong smell of smoke since about 3:40 a.m. Wednesday. It wasn’t coming from the fires in the northwest part of the country, according to a spokesperson with the National Weather Service in Boulder.

But it was noticeable enough to get the attention of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), which said in its smoke outlook published on its website just before 9 a.m. Wednesday that elevated levels of particulate matter and a “noticeable smoke odor” had been detected in Denver, mainly along the Platte River corridor and eastward.

“The source is currently unknown and under investigation,” CDPHE officials wrote. “Particulate Matter concentrations reached Moderate Wednesday morning, but are expected to decrease as atmospheric mixing increases throughout the day.”

The source? Likely prescribed burns near Lake George, according South Metro Fire Rescue spokesman Eric Hurst.

The Pike San Isabel National Forest said in a tweet Wednesday that “an inversion capturing smoke over the #WilsonRX burn this morning.” They said that as the weather warms up, the inversion should begin to release smoke.

If you are going to be outside today, the NWS encourages you to avoid any burning or outdoor activities that may cause sparks as a combination of dry grasses, warm temperatures, gusty winds and low humidity on Wednesday will raise the risk for wildfires across much of the Eastern Plains through the afternoon.