Denver records worst air quality in the world as western wildfires continue to blaze

Residents warned to wear a mask outdoors, avoid exercise, close windows and turn on air purifiers

Bevan Hurley
Sunday 08 August 2021 13:44
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Denver recorded the worst air quality in the world on Saturday, as it was besieged with smoke from the Californian wildfires.

Residents were warned to wear a mask outdoors, avoid exercise, close windows and turn on air purifiers after the Colorado city recorded an air quality reading of 167 on Saturday, according to global pollution monitoring site IQAir.

Views of the Rocky Mountains were obscured by the thick dark clouds, the afternoon sun turned red, and the iPhone weather app informed Denver residents the weather on Saturday was “smoke”.

Pollution levels were even worse by Sunday morning as the blanket of smoke lingered overnight, with the city recording a 171 air quality reading.

It had been overtaken in the global ranks by the Russian city of Krasnoyarsk, where air pollution is so bad it has frequent “black sky” events, a legacy of Soviet era factories and power plants.

The air quality index showed Salt Lake City was the fifth most polluted major city in the world, also a result of wildfire smoke.

The Dixie Wildfire, which has scorched nearly 450,000 acres, is the largest of more than 107 active blazes across the United States, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Five people remain unaccounted for after the Dixie fire destroyed the historic town of Greenville in Plumas County.

Dixie, now the third largest in the state’s history, is only 21 per cent contained.

The Dixie fire is being fuelled by high winds, low humidity and record-high temperatures in the Sunshine State.

Meteorologists have said the state’s historic drought, the result of climate change, means wildfires will become more severe.

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