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

Haze creeps into Spokane as fires continue their devastating toll on the West

UPDATED: Wed., Sept. 8, 2021

By Jordan Tolley-Turner The Spokesman-Review

Regional wildfires, as well as fires in California and Southern Oregon, pushed a smoky haze into the Spokane area Wednesday, and Thursday is expected to be similar.

Wednesday’s air quality topped out in the “moderate,” range according to Lisa Woodard, communications/outreach manager at the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency. Thursday is expected to stay mostly the same, with a slight break in the afternoon expected and air quality possibly reaching the “unhealthy for sensitive groups” range.

Potential rain Thursday night and Friday is expected to clear out haze for the weekend, according to Mark Turner, the observing program leader at the Spokane National Weather Service.

The smoke comes from a mixture of regional wildfires, as well as fires in California and southern Oregon, as a steering flow from the southwest is coming up and meeting local smoke. Wind is taking the mixture through Spokane northeast before pushing into Idaho and Montana, according to Turner.

Northern California’s McCash wildfire, which has burned 59,049 acres and is 15% contained, as well as Oregon’s Devil’s Knob Complex, initially a mix of 43 fires that has burned 59,888 acres and is 35% contained, could be contributing to the smoke, the weather service said.

Meanwhile, wildfires in Eastern Washington and North Idaho continue to burn.

Ferry County’s Summit Trail Fire, which has been active for nearly two months, has burned 48,457 acres of rugged mountain terrain and is 64% contained. By Oct. 31, the fire should be fully contained.

As of Sunday, the Trestle Creek Fire Complex, located in the Idaho Panhandle, had burned 6,641 acres and was 60% contained. The complex, originally consisting of seven fires from July 7 lightning strikes, is expected to be fully contained by Oct. 15.

Near Walla Walla, the Green Ridge Fire continues to burn in the Blue Mountains at 41,867 acres and 40% containment. It looks to be contained by Oct. 1.

The same thunderstorm that ignited the Trestle Creek Complex also sparked two wildfires that became the Character Complex near Kellogg. It has burned 12,121 acres and is 73% contained, with officials expecting it to be fully contained by Nov. 1.

Wildfires such as Stevens County’s Ford-Corkscrew and the Whitmore near Nespelem have been almost completely contained. The Ford-Corkscrew burned 15,782 acres as of Aug. 30 and at one time threatened many around Ford, Tum Tum, Clayton and Springdale. The Whitmore Fire burned 58,280 acres, as of Aug. 19, near Nespelem, the Columbia River and Omak Lake.

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