EL PASO, Texas (AP) - Skies in far West Texas are hazy as a
result of large wildfires blazing through two regions of New
Mexico, with smoke drifting hundreds of miles to the east and
south.
Lightning sparked one blaze that continued burning early Monday
near the Taos Pueblo. Flames from the 3,000-acre wildfire were
about five miles away, said fire information officer Bill Duemling.
In El Paso, the light haze was linked to smoke from the New
Mexico wildfires, according to National Weather Service officials
in Santa Teresa, N.M.
El Paso resident Sofia Moreno and her seven children saw the
gray smoke from atop the city's Scenic Drive on Sunday afternoon.
Copper hues from nearby mountain ranges were dulled and far-off
landmarks appeared fuzzy as Moreno scanned the city and horizon.
"It is pretty hazy compared to other days," Moreno told the El
Paso Times in Monday's editions. "We can still see some of the
scenic points but not as good as other times."
Weather service officials said circulation from a high-pressure
system is bringing smoke from wildfires in the Gila National Forest
in southwestern New Mexico while a southerly air flow brought in
plumes from the wildfire near Taos Pueblo. On Friday, flames got
within one-half mile of the ancient adobe landmark, which is one of
New Mexico's major tourist attractions.
But fire crews in New Mexico now say the Indian village is out
of danger.
The West Texas haze that softened azure skies is only going to
get worse this week as the high-pressure system strengthens, said
meteorologist Tom Bird, adding that the weather pattern was
expected to continue keeping pollutants near the ground.
The smoky haze will combine with hot temperatures this week in
the area. Weather officials predict seasonal highs in the upper 90s
Monday and Tuesday in El Paso, with temperatures peaking at about
102 degrees Wednesday and Thursday, then backing off the rest of
the week.
In June 2002, officials with the El Paso City-County Health and
Environmental District advised residents to reduce outdoor activity
because of smoke from eastern Arizona fires.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)