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Poor Air Quality Rampant in Spokane Area

The air quality index in the Spokane region spiraled upward toward hazardous levels Sunday as wildfire smoke from as far away as Lake Chelan drifted over the area. 

The Spokane Regional Clean Air agency measurement of pollutants -smoke residue - hit 136 Monday morning, on a scale of 0-200. That's considered unhealthy for sensitive groups - those with respiratory or cardiac problems - and not far below the unhealthy range for the entire population. A rating of 150 is considered unhealthy.

The brown miasma which enveloped the area was smoke from wildfires, including the 6,000 acre blaze called the Wolverine Creek fire near Lake Chelan, and the North Boulder 2 fire just south of the little town of Orient in the Colville National Forest.

Weather conditions - meaning extreme heat and extremely low humidity - combined with rugged terrain in both locations, meant very slow progress for firefighters struggling to contain the flames.

The large Blue Creek fire near Walla Walla is just about fully contained, but it's still putting up smoke from flames inside the containment lines.

Public health officials expect the air quality to improve starting today as the heat abates somewhat. There's even a slight possibility of a rain shower here and there.

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