EVERETT — Wildfire smoke from eastern Washington may stick around until early next week, according to the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.
On Wednesday, air quality levels were unhealthy for sensitive groups like those with underlying heart or lung diseases (including COVID-19), the elderly, those who are pregnant and children. Those conditions were predicted to persist through Thursday, with levels ranging from moderate to unhealthy for sensitive groups through the weekend.
Early next week, westerly winds might bring cleaner ocean air, according to the agency.
Many areas, including Snohomish and Island counties, upped their burn ban restrictions this week to include recreational fires. Local fires can add to air pollution.
The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency advises that those sensitive to smoke stay at home when possible and limit outdoor activity.
If you need to go outside, consult the agency’s real-time air quality map at map.pscleanair.gov to check the current conditions in your area and plan around them.
Agency forecaster Joel Creswell said people should make a clean-air space in their homes. To do so, close all the windows and doors to one room and use an air cleaner. Or make an air cleaner with a box fan and a furnace filter.
If your home gets unbearably hot, open windows for a short period of time. If you have an air conditioner, use it in re-circulation mode.
Masks labeled “N95” or “N100” are the most effective to protect from air pollution, according to the agency. A cloth face covering offers limited protection and should only be used as a last resort.
Nine large wildfires have been ablaze across the state this week.
Roughly 300,000 acres burned Monday alone, more than double the acreage lost in wildfires in all of 2019. All are thought to be caused by people, though it is not yet known if any were set deliberately or accidentally.
Keep an eye on air quality