OKANOGAN – A regional air quality advisory has been issued after fires in Oregon and Siberia put a haze over the region.
“We are seeing region wide smoke impacts from local (Northwest) wildfires and smoke transported from massive fires in Siberia,” said Sean Hopkins, Smoke Management Team Lead with the state Department of Ecology.
“We don’t see any significant clearing until Friday evening and through the weekend with some weather forecasted to roll through the area,” he said.
Wildfires in Oregon burned nearly 300,000 acres by Tuesday, said Assistant Fire Management Officer-Fuels Program Manager Meg Trebon with the Methow Valley Ranger District.
An air quality advisory was issued July 11 by Chelan-Douglas Health District.
“Nearly everyone likes to spend time outdoors on warm sunny days, but poor air quality can harm people with heart and lung disease,” the district’s Public Information Officer, Meg Small, said.
“The Air Quality Index throughout most regions of Chelan and Douglas Counties is measuring as between ‘Moderate’ and ‘Unhealthy for Sensitive Populations,’ ” she said. “Conditions vary throughout the two-county area as the wildfire smoke moves through our area.”
The smoke was to the point where Trebon investigated its source.
“As you might know, there have been fires in the Chelan and Entiat area over the past several days,” she said. “These fires are relatively inactive and don’t account for the smoke we see here. We’ve had two wildfires here in the past few days - one up Twisp River and another on Flagg Mountain. These total about four acres and are well into mop-up mode.”
Trebon learned the smoke is coming from fires in Oregon and Siberia.
You can follow the smoke and general haze created by the fires as it flows across the Northwest at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s website, www.firedetect.noaa.gov/viewer.htm.
More about the transport of smoke from Siberia and Asia can be found on Cliff Mass blog, cliffmass.blogspot.com/2012/07/asian-smoke-reaches-north-america.html.
During the air advisory, individuals with pre-existing heart and lung conditions such as asthma and emphysema, the elderly, and children should avoid outdoor activity, remain indoors with windows and doors closed, avoid excessive exertion, and avoid exposure to tobacco smoke or other respiratory irritants, Small said.
“Air conditioning units should be set on ‘recycle’ mode to reduce introduction of contaminated outdoor air,” she said. “People without air conditioning need to take precautions against heat stress and should consider temporarily relocating to an area with better air quality. “
Members of the general population may also begin to feel adverse affects from poor air quality, Small said. They should consider following the same precautions.
Adverse symptoms may include dizziness, headache, difficulty breathing, coughing, excessive phlegm and nausea.
For specific medical advice please contact your physician, Small said.
More information is available concerning air quality and current fire conditions at the following websites:
Forest Service: inciweb.org/.
Real-time webcams: www.wenworld.com/
Fire report as of Wednesday, July 11:
There were 22 new fires burning 287,041 acres in Oregon and Washington.
There were 10 fires in Oregon covering 286,667 acres.
There were 12 fires in Washington covering 374 acres.
The Navarre fire 18 miles southwest of Chelan, which started July 5, has full suppression. The fire, determined to be human caused, burned 800 acres of timber and grass. It is 100-percent contained.