All of Eastern and Central Washington is under an air quality alert due rapidly spreading wildfires fueled by unusually hot and dry conditions.
Lisa Woodard, the spokeswoman for the Spokane Clean Air Agency, said the alert is in effect until Monday due to worsening conditions.
“We have wildfires to the east, to the north to the west, to the south. We’re just surrounded by wildfires. This has happened in past in past seasons. When you get a shift in wind directions, it might clear out smoke from one fire, but it might bring in smoke from another fire.”
She said a cold front is expected on Sunday, which could improve air quality, but noted a shift in wind, or new fire could change that.
“We know from past experience that the air quality can change pretty rapidly in either direction throughout a day, especially during wildfire season, it’s so unpredictable. So, it’s very important to check the current air quality and take the recommended precautions to protect your health.”
According to the Washington State Department of Ecology smoke forecast, air quality is expected to be unhealthy for the remainder of Thursday, unhealthy for sensitive groups Friday and moderate until Monday. The National Weather Service anticipates shifts in wind could worsen conditions however.
Much of the Inland Northwest will be under a heat advisory until Saturday. Health officials urge people to stay indoors during smoke events. Those without air conditioning who can’t open their windows may need to seek shelter elsewhere. Spokane Public Libraries and the Looff Carousel are open as cooling centers.