Health officials warn of poor air quality

— Fires are blazing throughout Okanogan and Chelan County and where there’s fire, there’s smoke.

Even if you’re not in the direct path of the flames, with air quality plummeting lower and lower it is important to be aware of your surroundings, Okanogan County Public Health said.

The agency said to expect occasional periods of poor air quality ed in Okanogan County this week with smoke-related particulates reaching levels considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, including infants and young children, the elderly, pregnant women, diabetics or those with pre-existing lung and cardiovascular conditions.

To alleviate some of the smoke’s effects, stay indoors with the windows closed and use the recycle or re-circulate setting on your vehicle’s air conditioner.

According to the latest smoke management/weather forecast information available, periods of poor air quality are expected to occur intermittently through the week.

“Anyone with cardiovascular or lung problems should probably be staying indoors,” Community Health Director Lauri Jones said Thursday afternoon.

With ash falling and an obvious haze over the county, it’s probably not too healthy for anybody to be outside for an extended period of time, and that those who can avoid it should.

Jones said people such as construction workers who can’t avoid being outside should be watchful of how the air is affecting them.

“It hasn’t been too bad. Everybody’s eyes are kind of burning, but nobody has had any real problems with breathing,” Buno Construction crew manager Kevin Grant said. Buno is doing sewer replacement work for the city of Omak.

Road closures on U.S. Highway 2 over Stevens Pass and state Highway 20 over Loup Loup Pass mean his crew members will have to take Snoqualmie Pass to get back to the west side of the state for their weekend break.

With multiple events scheduled for this weekend throughout the county, everyone is hoping that the smoke will go away soon.

Pateros is hosting the Apple Pie Jamboree this weekend, but City Clerk Kerry Wilson said the event would be canceled only if the flames were coming into Pateros.

“We’re just hoping for the best,” Wilson said.

The Winthrop Winthrop Rhythm and Blues Festival is scheduled to go ahead as planned.

“Everything’s on schedule, everything’s set up, and everything’s happening,” festival Director Bart Northcott said.

Starting either this afternoon or tomorrow, the state Department of Natural Resources will have a booth set up outside the Pateros City Hall, 113 Lakeshore Drive, to update the public about the fires.

Meanwhile, Grant County has issued an air quality alert because of fires in the area.


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