Smoke once again settled into the Spokane area Friday, making air quality “unhealthy for sensitive groups.” Winds are expected to push smoke from wildfires into the area Saturday, as well.
“We’re into smoke season, so we’ll just have to see where the smoke comes with the changing of the winds,” said Robin Fox, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Spokane.
Air quality indexes in east Spokane, Airway Heights and Spokane Valley ranged from 105 to 115 at 5 p.m. Friday, placing them in the unhealthy for sensitive groups category (101-150), according to the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency. North Spokane was at 93, the “moderate” category.
When air quality is unhealthy for sensitive groups, those people should limit prolonged or heavy exertion and limit time outdoors.
The agency said on its website that air quality could improve before conditions worsen Saturday night.
“Because of how close our area is to some of the wildfires, any change in wind direction or fire activity could have significant impacts, but current forecast models indicate that air quality could reach the AQI-Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups range at times,” on Saturday, the agency said.
Fox said smoke from wildfires burning along the Idaho-Montana border and the Kootenai River Complex fires near Bonners Ferry was responsible for the hazy conditions Friday in the Coeur d’Alene and Spokane areas.
“That’s kind of spread the smoke across a lot of northeastern Washington,” Fox said.
The Kootenai River Complex blazes burned 17,376 acres and was uncontained Friday.
Fox said shifting winds could bring smoke west and south of the region this weekend.
Fox recommended people keep their windows closed to keep smoky air outside their homes.
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