Raging wildfires are one of the many dry-weather joys of living in Tucson. They usually kick around for awhile, displacing rabbits and field mice, then peter out or become contained.

The Elk Horn Fire, in the Baboquivari Peak Wilderness Area about 50 miles southwest of Tucson, has been causing quite a stir since it began June 11.

The fire is “human caused, ” according to the Arizona State Forestry Division.

As of Tuesday, the Elk Horn has consumed 14,500 acres and is only 18 percent contained and expected to burn for several more days. The terrain is rough and ragged, making access tough for fire crews. Two helicopters, six engines, four water tenders, four hand crews, three hotshot crews and a grand total of 215 personnel have been fighting this blaze.

Elk Horn Fire/AZ State Forestry

Elk Horn Fire/AZ State Forestry

This particular fire is noxious enough to have prompted the American Lung Association of Arizona and Pima County Department of Environmental Quality to issue a smoke advisory.

The advisory warns people, especially those with respiratory problems, to take caution. It also advises:

• Not to jog, jump rope or exert yourself in smoky areas
• Close your doors and windows
• Use air conditioning rather than evaporative coolers, since the latter will just suck smoke into your home

Other helpful tips should include:

• Don’t stand directly beneath a big billow of smoke and take in an expansive, gulping breath
• Don’t venture southwest of town into the burning brush to see what all the hubbub is about
• Don’t try to emulate the Elk Horn, or any other wildfire, in your barbecue grill.

Barbecue/Ryn Gargulinski

Barbecue/Ryn Gargulinski

Unattended barbecue/Ryn Gargulinski

Unattended barbecue/Ryn Gargulinski

Still worried? Check out air pollution levels at the PDEQ website or call the PDEQ hotline at
(520) 882-4AIR. This way you know if you should go north for the summer.

Have you ever gotten up and close and personal with a raging wildfire?

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