Cars drive along a smokey Mountain Loop Highway on Friday, in Granite Falls. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Cars drive along a smokey Mountain Loop Highway on Friday, in Granite Falls. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Wildfires flood Western Washington with smoky skies

Air quality in Darrington was ranked the worst in the state Friday. Most of the region was in a red flag warning.

DARRINGTON — Get ready for a hot, smoky weekend.

Winds have pushed wildfire smoke into Western Washington, worsening air quality. Smoky conditions are expected through Sunday, and it may be unhealthy for sensitive groups, the National Weather Service said in an air quality alert.

The smoke is coming from several fires in the North Cascades, according to the Washington Smoke Blog.

Meanwhile, most of the region is under a red flag warning this weekend. The warning means hot, dry weather could spur rapid spread of wildfires.

Air quality in Darrington was ranked the worst in the state Friday, according to a monitoring network. The conditions were considered unhealthy for everyone, and people were advised to limit time outdoors and avoid strenuous activity.

The Darrington High School football game was moved to Marysville on Friday evening due to smoke. Air quality was rated as moderate in Marysville and Everett on Friday.

An outdoor burn ban remains in place for Snohomish County. Recreational fires are banned in areas under the red flag warning. Almost all of Snohomish County is in a red flag area through midnight Saturday.

People sit on paddle boards out on Lake Stevens where smoke has settled on Friday, in Lake Stevens. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

People sit on paddle boards out on Lake Stevens where smoke has settled on Friday, in Lake Stevens. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Three wildfires in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest northeast of Darrington were estimated at a combined 1,184 acres. Suiattle River Road — a key access route to the Pacific Crest Trail and other remote hiking destinations — was officially shut down Friday beyond Forest Service Road 2640.

From Tuesday to Friday, the Suiattle River fire grew from an estimated 47 acres to 66 acres. The Boulder Lake fire was estimated at 654 acres, up from 617. The Lake Toketie fire was 464 acres, up from 457.

Crews were actively fighting the Suiattle River fire, using bucket drops via helicopter. The terrain is too steep to put firefighters on the ground, Kit Moffitt, fire management officer with the U.S. Forest Service, said at a community meeting in Darrington on Thursday.

The Suiattle River fire was a priority due to proximity to private property, cultural sites, state lands and historic structures. Both the Boulder Lake and Lake Toketie fires are further east and further from “value at risk,” according to the Forest Service. Crews are working to improve and strengthen confinement lines around all three fires.

A Level 1 “Be Ready” Evacuation Notice remains in place for the lower Suiattle Valley, north of the Suiattle River. The alert means residents should be ready to leave: “There is no immediate danger to your home, family or business, but the fire or other danger may be moving toward you.”

Ferries near Mukilteo on Friday cross path in the waters of Possession Sound through the smoke and haze of the Darrington wildfires. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Ferries near Mukilteo on Friday cross path in the waters of Possession Sound through the smoke and haze of the Darrington wildfires. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Moffitt said all three fires were sparked by the same lightning storm in late August. The Boulder Lake and Lake Toketie fires were discovered on Aug. 24 and 25, shortly after the storm. The Suiattle River fire smouldered in a tree for five days and was not discovered until Aug. 30, he said.

A total of 81 crew members are helping with fire suppression.

Trails, roads and campgrounds near the fires remain closed. Closures include Suiattle River Road (Forest Road 26) at the 10½ mile marker, Buck Creek campground, the Boulder Lake trail, the Huckleberry Mountain trail, the Buck Creek trail, the Green Mountain trail, the Downey Creek trail, the Suiattle River trail, the Sulphur Creek trail, the Sulphur Mountain trail and the Tenas Creek trail.

Contact the Darrington Ranger Station at 360-436-1155 for updated trail and road closures, or check the Forest Service’s website.

Sierra Pacific Industries on Friday closed its private forestlands in Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties due to high fire danger, according to a news release. The company typically allows the public to access the lands for hunting, fishing and other recreation. The closure will be in place until Tuesday.

Image shows fires producing smoke in the Pacific Northwest. (Washington Smoke Blog)

Image shows fires producing smoke in the Pacific Northwest. (Washington Smoke Blog)

Jacqueline Allison: 425-339-3434; jacqueline.allison@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @jacq_allison.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Crews will reduce lanes and eventually close northbound Interstate 5 between Everett and Marysville this week to work on a bridge overpass girder. (Washington State Department of Transportation)
Overnight lane closures, I-5 detour set between Everett, Marysville

Crews need to replace a girder on the 12th Street NE bridge that was damaged by an overheight load in September 2021.

Mike Rosen
Businessman Mike Rosen announces campaign for mayor of Edmonds

Rosen, a city planning board member, is backed by five former Edmonds mayors. It’s unclear if incumbent Mike Nelson will run again.

FILE - A Boeing 747-8, Boeing's new passenger plane, takes its first flight, Sunday, March 20, 2011, at Paine Field in Everett, Wash. After more than half a century, Boeing is rolling its last 747 out of a Washington state factory on Tuesday night. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Boeing’s last 747 to roll off the Everett assembly line

The Queen of the Skies was dethroned by smaller, more fuel-efficient jets. The last 747s were built for a cargo carrier.

PUD workers install new transformers along 132nd Street on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022 in Mill Creek, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Electric vehicles spur big forecast jump for PUD demand

Not long ago, the Snohomish County PUD projected 50,000 electric cars registered in the county by 2040. Now it expects up to 660,000.

Traffic moves northbound on I-5 through Everett on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Grinding work still needed for I-5 through Everett

Construction crews need warmer temps for the work to remove what a reader described as “mini raised speed bumps.”

After a day of learning to fight fires, Snohomish firefighter recruit Chau Nguyen flakes a hose as other recruits load the hoses onto a fire truck April 19, 2018, at the training facility on S. Machias Rd. in Snohomish. (Andy Bronson / Herald file)
Lawsuit: Everett firefighter sexually harassed numerous recruits

Chau Nguyen resigned earlier this year, long after the first complaint about his behavior at the county’s fire training academy.

People work on the roof of the Stilly Valley Senior Center on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022 in Arlington, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Seniors evacuated from Stilly Valley Center housing due to roof damage

Residents said water damage issues began years ago. Mid-winter repairs forced them into hotels.

FILE - In this photo taken Oct. 2, 2018, semi-automatic rifles fill a wall at a gun shop in Lynnwood, Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee is joining state Attorney General Bob Ferguson to propose limits to magazine capacity and a ban on the sale of assault weapons. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
Trade in an unloaded gun for a loaded gift card in Mukilteo, Everett

Mukiteo’s Gun Buyback is Saturday. Everett has $25,000 to give out at its exchange Dec. 17.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Darrington in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Sauk-Suiattle Tribe alleges state unfairly charges online sales tax

Tribal members on the reservation are charged state taxes despite a federal exemption. The tribe says it’s a sovereignty issue.

Most Read