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Thursday, September 19, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Air quality worst in country; heat advisory issued for Spokane

UPDATED: Tue., Aug. 6, 2019, 10 p.m.

Smoke from a growing fire on the Colville Indian Reservation continued to blow into Spokane on Tuesday, causing air quality to be unhealthy for some groups, including children and the elderly.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency labeled Spokane’s air quality the worst in the country Tuesday morning.

The fire, called the Williams Flats fire, had burned 18,000 acres about 50 miles northwest of Spokane as of Tuesday night, according to the National Wildfire Coordinating Group. Firefighters have the fire 25% contained.

The fire is about 5 miles from Lake Roosevelt and is moving toward it, said Pam Sichting, information officer with Northwest Incident Management Team 8. She said she doesn’t anticipate the fire jumping the lake.

“There is a possibility this fire could take off with a very tall plume,” she said.

The fire’s chance of growth was considered “moderate” Tuesday morning as winds push it east and temperatures were expected to rise as high as 97 degrees in nearby Keller, Washington, according to the National Weather Service.

Sichting said one firefighter in the Williams Flats Fire was injured by a falling rock that struck his leg but did not break it. He is expected to make a full recovery.

In Spokane, the temperatures are also expected to reach the upper 90s, causing the National Weather Service to issue a Heat Advisory for Tuesday and Wednesday. The advisory warns people to drink plenty of water, check on elderly family members, bring pets indoors and never leave children or pets in cars.

Wednesday likely will see Spokane’s air quality reach the “unhealthy” range, according to the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency.

This weekend could bring some relief from the heat, according to the National Weather Service. Temperatures are expected to drop, and showers and thunderstorms could spread over the Spokane area.

The weather pattern will start changing as early as Thursday, said Rocco Pelatti, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Spokane.

“Until that time, we’ll start having air quality concerns,” he said.

Pelatti said rain and temperatures in the 70s and maybe the low 80s are expected on Saturday and Sunday.

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