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Smoky air expected to last days


Viewers at Riley Point barely make out the Grand Coulee Dam on Tuesday. - Scott Hunter photo

Smoke is thick in the air again, originating from fires burning in Montana and Idaho. An air-quality warning from the National Weather Service in Spokane extends through Friday at noon.

Laurie Nisbet, a meteorologist for the NWS, explained that northerly/east-northerly winds have carried smoke from wildfires in Montana to Eastern Washington, and that on Thursday winds will switch to a more southwesterly direction (coming from that direction, not blowing towards).

"When the winds switch to the southwest, we'll probably be infiltrated with smoke from the wildfires in Oregon," Nisbet said.

Ash fell in the Grand Coulee area Tuesday, just as it was reportedly "falling like snow" in Port Townsend on the west side of the state.

The smoke in the air isn't healthy to breathe, especially for children, the elderly or anyone with respiratory or cardiac issues, but even healthy people can be negatively affected by it, according to the Washington State Department of Health. Some symptoms from breathing in too many smoke particles can include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, irritated eyes, and more.

Governor Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency for Washington state on Friday due to all the wildfires, citing the 20,975-acre Jolly Mountain fire near Cle Elum as an example.

The Federal Emergency Management Administration authorized the use of federal funds to help with the Jolly Mountain fire.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, 81 large fires have burned 1.4 million acres in nine western states, with more than 27,000 firefighters and support personnel assigned to the fires.

Big fires affecting

the air quality


• Diamond Creek - Pasayten Wilderness - 95,000 acres - 65% contained

• Jolly Mountain - Okanogan/Wenatchee National Forest - 20,975 acres - 0% contained

• Norse Peak - Okanogan/Wenatchee National Forest - 18,822 acres - 8% contained

• Bridge Creek - Colville Indian Reservation - 3,709 acres - 78% contained


• Highline - Payette National Forest - 63,851 acres - 0% contained


An image from a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite shows intense smoke over Pacific Northwest states Tuesday morning. - NOAA photo

• Rice Ridge - Lolo National Forest - 101,424 acres - 2% contained

• Meyers - Beaverhead/Deerlodge National Forest - 53,737 acres - 0% contained

• Alice Creek - Helena National Forest - 17,480 acres - 5% contained

• Caribou - Kootenai National Forest - 15,142 acres - 0% contained

• Lolo Peak - Lolo National Forest - 47,775 acres - 31% contained


• Chetco Bar - Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest - 167,513 acres - 5% contained

• High Cascades Complex - Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest - 38,320 acres - 20% contained

• Umpqua North Complex - Umpqua National Forest - 29,544 acres - 23% contained

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