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Wildfire season has been delayed, but widespread smoke is expected later this summer

Doug Nadvornick/Spokane Public Radio
Doug Nadvornick/Spokane Public Radio

Air quality officials say it's time to prepare now for the smoke.

The Northwest wildfire season will get a late start, thanks to this spring’s cool, wet weather. But Lisa Woodard from the Spokane Clean Air Agency reminds us that fires and smoke will likely eventually make their appearance.

“Regardless of what the current weather conditions are locally, we do know that we get smoke from fires burning hundreds of miles away, so local conditions do matter, but also what happens in other states matters as well," she said.

Woodard and her peers at other air quality agencies are using this week to prepare us for the smoke that’s sure to waft our way. She says it’s a good time to have our HVAC systems serviced and the filters replaced. And just as we’re thinking about how to smoke proof our houses, she encourages us to think about our vehicles as well.

“Your filter in your car is an important thing to consider too, making sure that that’s been cleaned or has been replaced if it needs to be replaced. Our vehicles also have the fresh air intake and so switching that to recirculate is also important," she said.

She says people with sensitive respiratory systems and underlying health conditions should consider ways to avoid the smoke whenever they can.

Woodard urges people to check for air quality information at her agency’s website. You can get text alerts during wildfire season. She also recommends the Washington Smoke Blog to stay abreast of what’s burning and where.

Doug Nadvornick has spent most of his 30+-year radio career at Spokane Public Radio and filled a variety of positions. He is currently the program director and news director. Through the years, he has also been the local Morning Edition and All Things Considered host (not at the same time). He served as the Inland Northwest correspondent for the Northwest News Network, based in Coeur d’Alene. He created the original program grid for KSFC. He has also served for several years as a board member for Public Media Journalists Association. During his years away from SPR, he worked at The Pacific Northwest Inlander, Washington State University in Spokane and KXLY Radio.