SEATTLE — The air quality west of the Cascades from Vancouver, British Columbia, south to Eugene, Oregon, has deteriorated again as wildfires continue to burn.
The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency sent out an alert Tuesday afternoon saying the smoke around Seattle was causing unhealthy air and that people should close windows and limit time outdoors. Other areas around Puget Sound were experiencing air considered unhealthy for sensitive groups or worse, the agency said.
The Portland, Oregon, metropolitan area was seeing polluted air in the unhealthy to unhealthy for sensitive groups range, according to Washington and Oregon monitoring sites. The cities of Eugene and Springfield, Oregon, were experiencing similarly polluted air.
The smoke-laden air gave the Pacific Northwest the designation of worst air quality in the US on Tuesday, KGW Meteorologist Joe Raineri said.
Nine fires were burning in Washington and Oregon before a red flag warning for critical fire conditions was issued over the weekend. Some new fires started while the Nakia Creek Fire in southwest Washington took off, causing much of the smoky air seen around southwest Washington and Portland, officials said.
Exposure to wildfire smoke is associated with eye and respiratory tract irritation, bronchitis, heart failure, and even premature death, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.
In the Pacific Northwest, relief should come Friday.
“Friday through Saturday will be cooler and more seasonable and we’ll finally get that rain. I think everyone’s excited about that,” National Weather Service meteorologist Kayla Mazurkiewicz told The Seattle Times. “We should have had a couple of inches by now.”