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Air quality bad in most of state as wildfires burn

Photo courtesy of Washington Smoke Information: www.wasmoke.blogspot.com

SEATTLE -- Local agencies are reporting Tuesday that air quality is poor across most of Washington state due to several wildfires in the state, along with smoke carried in from Oregon and Montana fires.

In Seattle, smoke from the Jolly Mountain Fire near Cle Elum and the Norse Peak Fire near Chinook Pass have made its way to Western Washington.

"Last night I got home from work and it was fine. I woke up and it was all ashy," said driver Bruce Forest, who stopped at a self service car wash in Auburn on Tuesday to wash his truck for the second time in 2 days.

Pierce, King and Snohomish counties are all currently at "moderate" air quality but are expected to drop to "unhealthy" later Tuesday, according to the Washington Smoke Information.

Skagit County is currently at "unhealthy", according to Skagit County Public Health.

According to the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, shifting winds on Thursday are expected to improve the air quality.

On Tuesday, the smoke layer itself was pretty high up in the sky. There wasn't a lot of smoke on the ground level.

"So, what we’re breathing, what we’re experiencing at the lower level is actually air that’s coming in from the north or maybe a little bit more from the west," said Phil Swartzendruber, air quality scientist for the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. "And so we’re actually seeing lower levels at the ground even though up above us… it’s actually pretty hazy and pretty dark."

Kitsap County, which was the only county in the region with "good" air quality Tuesday morning, now has been downgraded to "moderate" Tuesday afternoon, according to the agency.

The Cascades area is currently at an "unhealthy" air quality rating.

The Tacoma School District postponed all soccer games and tennis matches on Tuesday and moved athletic practices indoors.

All afternoon and evening outdoor athletic activities, including contests and practices, in the Kent School District were cancelled Tuesday due to the heat advisory and air quality alert from the National Weather Service, according to a notice that was posted on the district's website.

In Eastern Washington, smoke from Montana fires has caused hazardous air quality that is not expected to improve in the next few days, according to Washington Smoke Information.

Officials are recommending that if you are in an area with smoky air to stay indoors and set your A/C to re-circulation. If you work outside, officials recommend wearing a face mask.

The coast is reportedly the only area in the state that should have decent air quality in the next couple of days, according to local agencies.

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