September 25, 2012 in City

Gregoire extends burning ban

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Map of this story's location
Status of major fires

Major wildfires burning on the eastern slopes of the Cascade Range were relatively calm on Monday.

The Wenatchee Complex fire was 82 square miles, and 30 percent contained. The Table Mountain fire was reported at nearly 57 square miles in size, and 10 percent contained.

The heavy smoke was hampering aerial firefighting, said Alan Hoffmeister, a spokesman on the Wenatchee complex. The wildfires were started by lightning in early September.

Several other wildfires were also burning in the state. The biggest was a nearly 14,000-acre fire that was 40 percent contained along the west flank of Mount Adams.

Associated Press

Gov. Chris Gregoire has extended a ban to include all outdoor and agricultural burning in Eastern Washington amid continuing wildfire danger.

The ban includes campfires, bonfires, yard cleanup and land clearing. The ban will last through Sept. 30 and came with a recommendation that residents protect themselves from wildfire smoke.

Smoke has settled into communities across the region.

In Spokane today forecasters expected air quality to remain in the moderate category.

The National Weather Service is maintaining its air quality alert for the Columbia Basin and Eastern Washington through Friday.

The Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency listed air quality as 77 on the air quality index late Monday afternoon.

Unhealthful air for sensitive groups begins at a reading of 100.

The weather service has posted an air quality alert through Friday for Eastern Washington and parts of Idaho, though not north of Latah County.

People with heart and lung conditions, older adults and children should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion as air quality could deteriorate.

Coeur d’Alene had a reading of 57 on Monday afternoon, just eight points above the good range.

The Department of Environmental Quality in Idaho has issued an air quality alert for the Lewiston area.

A Stage 1 burning ban remains in effect in the Spokane region. It prohibits outdoor burning and use of noncertified stoves and fireplaces. Charcoal and gas grills are still allowed.

Outdoor burning is banned in the five northernmost counties of North Idaho, and residents are asked to curtail indoor burning.

The weather service said that a weak northerly flow Monday helped move smoke to the south.

Much of Sunday’s smoky haze had come from fires in central Idaho.

A series of very weak Pacific systems could increase winds and help disperse wildfire smoke.

Air quality remained extremely polluted in the Wenatchee area and along the east slopes of the Cascades on Monday. The air index reached the very unhealthy level.

Temperatures will remain summerlike even though it is the first week of autumn. Highs are going to be in the middle and upper 70s, and lows in the upper 40s to lower 50s.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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