Is there anyone in this community who cares about the smoke-filled air in our valley?  I’m not talking about any smoke-free initiative for local casinos.  I’m referring to the smoke suspended in the entire valley on at least three, if not more, days within the past two weeks.  The heavy cloud of smoke appeared to be originating somewhere along the Virgin River in the Littlefield area of the Arizona Strip.

On two early morning trips to St. George, two weeks in a row, I observed heavy smoke billowing from a fire that I suspect was burning brush.  We live in a valley, and the smoke was acting just as one might expect in a valley.  It rose in a heavy cloud directly over the fire and then began to spread horizontally, unable to rise above the mountains, where it may have had a chance to at least dissipate over a wider area.  At one point, during my second trip, the smoke was even turning brown as it combined with other pollutants in the air.  When smoke is unable to rise above the mountains and dissipate, it simply settles in the valley.  Upon both return trips in the afternoon, the entire valley was filled with smoke, and the fire continued to burn throughout the day.

On the morning of Wednesday, December 19, the smoke odor was extremely heavy at my home, which is on the north end of town.  As I drove through Mesquite that morning, the entire town between I-15 and the mountain was covered in a heavy blanket of smoke.  My wife called City Hall to see if there was anyone there who cared, but she was told by the person to whom she spoke that he hadn’t noticed anything.  City Hall, however was enveloped in smoke when I drove by that morning.

I realize that we, in Mesquite, have little to no control over what happens in Arizona, and that Perhaps Mohave County should take an interest.  However, I have had an experience with Mohave County officials in Kingston who were unable to even wrap their mind around the fact that the Arizona Strip is in Mohave County.  Dealing with someone in Kingston about anything on the Strip is like dealing with a foreign country.

Perhaps, if someone representing the City of Mesquite would contact Mohave County officials regarding an issue that adversely affects all of us in this valley, someone there might actually listen.  Whether or not they care is another question.

One of the attractions that led my wife and I to purchase a home and relocate to Mesquite 12 years ago was its relatively clean air.  Our air quality has seriously deteriorated over the past 10-12 years, mostly due to conditions outside the control of anyone in our valley.  Daylong brush burning, however is something that could be curbed if there is anyone who cares.

Tom Gillespie