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Wildfire smoke is choking the West but helping firefighters

The sky is orange over Edwards, Colo, Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, from Beaver Creek Point in Avon, Colo. The haziness is from smoke from a plethora of wildfires around the west. The particles in the air turn the sky a vibrant orange and yellow. (Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily via AP)

DENVER (AP) — Wildfire smoke blanketing much of the Western U.S. is setting off health alarms, but firefighters say it’s helping them by containing temperatures and boosting humidity.

Weather forecasters said Friday the smoke reflects some of the sun’s radiation back into the atmosphere, reducing heat.

Bryan Henry, a manager at the National Interagency Fire Center, said the lower temperatures help keep humidity higher.

The humidity seeps into trees and grasses, making them less flammable.

The interagency fire center says crews are trying to control 82 major fires in 10 Western states, up from 76 fires in nine states on Thursday.

The fires are burning on about 2,300 square miles (6,000 square kilometers).

Forecasters say the smoke is starting to clear.

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