Department of Ecology News Release, September 24, 2012
Incident: Wenatchee Complex Wildfire
Air quality still ‘hazardous' or ‘very unhealthy' from top to near bottom of Central Washington
SPOKANE - From Winthrop and Okanogan to Toppenish, air quality in Central Washington is "unhealthy" for everyone today. And in both Wenatchee and Ellensburg air quality is worse and registers as "hazardous" and "very unhealthy" respectively. Pateros and Entiat also are reporting "very unhealthy" air.
Farther south of Toppenish, and in much of Eastern Washington, residents are experiencing air quality that is "unhealthy for sensitive groups" such as the elderly, very young children and people with breathing difficulties, heart disease or lung disease. Today Walla Walla and the Tri-Cities are enjoying a reprieve from unhealthy air.
Light winds over the Cascades today are not expected to help much with smoke in the hard-hit communities. Computer models predict some moderate winds later today, which could lead to good dispersion in Ellensburg, Leavenworth and the Methow Valley.
All residents in the Wenatchee and Ellensburg areas should stay indoors and curtail their physical activities both indoors and outside. Doors and windows should remain closed. In the remainder of Central and Eastern Washington, common sense precautions should be taken by everyone, but sensitive groups, such as children, the elderly and heart patients, are particularly vulnerable.
The biggest health threat comes from the fine particles in smoke. These can cause burning eyes, runny nose, bronchitis and other illnesses. Smoky air also can aggravate heart and lung diseases, and even lead to death.
The Washington State Department of Health is providing answers to frequently asked questions about wildfire smoke.
Weather systems over the weekend in Eastern Washington did cause some dispersion and didn't set off new wildfires, but they also transported some smoke from central Idaho wildfires further west into Washington.
You can find news and information about smoke and wildfires from a variety of state, local and federal agencies on a new blog, http://wasmoke.blogspot.com/.
Central Washington University is providing information for students and their families online.
The National Weather Service has issued an Air Quality Alert for much of eastern Washington.
Gov. Gregoire has issued a burn ban in Eastern Washington, which is in effect until midnight Monday.