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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Air quality improved in Spokane Friday as some Inland Northwest wildfires grew

Aug. 6, 2021 Updated Fri., Aug. 6, 2021 at 8:33 p.m.

Smoke finally rolled out enough for air quality to improve to “good” on Friday, but that doesn’t mean the numerous wildfires across the Inland Northwest have stopped burning.

The Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency had air quality Friday morning squarely in the “good” category, meaning air pollution poses little risk.

According to its prediction, blue skies and little smoke should continue almost through the entire weekend until a wind shift brings in the chance for more smoke late Sunday.

The improved air quality is a welcome bonus after a Thursday red flag warning didn’t start a new big wildfire nearby, but did cause some existing wildfires in the Inland Northwest to grow.

The Whitmore and Hamilton fires that started Tuesday because of lightning are a combined 4,300 acres and 0% contained. The two fires are right next to each other and have grown since Tuesday. Both are near the almost completely contained Chuweah Creek fire near Nespelem, according to Northwest Incident Management Team 12.

Also in the Colville area, the Summit Trail fire continues to be a challenge for firefighters. The fire is 28,036 acres and is 20% contained.

Tuesday’s thunderstorms in Washington also sparked the Schneider Springs fire northwest of Yakima. The fire was spread by gusty winds on Thursday, and is 4,000 acres and 0% contained, according to the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

Nearby, the Windy fire is 85 acres and 0% contained. Firefighters are having difficulty getting access to the fire and it is expected to grow as windy conditions continue.

The Molybenite and Walker Creek fires were also started by lightning, reflecting that Tuesday’s storms ignited close to 50 fires in northern Washington. The Molybenite fire is 55 acres and 70% contained, while the Walker Creek fire is 5% contained and is 100 acres, according to the Northeast Region-Department of Natural Resources.

In southeastern Washington, the Green Ridge fire is around 14,000 acres and is only 15% contained. Numerous valuable assets are threatened, including Mill Creek Municipal Watershed, plantation reforestation sites, sensitive plants, recreation areas, fisheries, cultural sites, and farming and high value agricultural lands, according to the Umatilla National Forest.

In Idaho, the Trestle Creek Complex fire near Sandpoint that started in early July is still 0% contained and is 3,450 acres. Firefighters don’t expect to have it fully contained until October.

But the Pioneer fire near Priest River is 100% contained and will remain at 355 acres.

Finally, the Character Complex fire in Coeur d’Alene National Forest is 30% contained and 7,800 acres.

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