Tuesday, July 30, 2019

7/30/2019 Air Quality and Wildfires Update

So far this summer wildfire smoke impacts to air quality have been fairly minimal. Significant smoke from numerous large wildfires in Alaska and Canada barely brushed the state by traveling instead to the east and the Great Lakes region. But a few active wildfires burning in Washington are causing light smoke impacts in the south central portion of the state. The largest is the Left Hand fire burning to the west/northwest of Yakima. Winds have moved the smoke from this fire to the south/southeast and the town of Sunnyside has seen multiple days of Moderate air quality conditions due to smoke from Left Hand and from the Pipeline fire. Other nearby communities from Ellensburg to Toppenish, Naches, and Yakima have experienced light smoke at times and are likely to continue to see smoke until the Left Hand fire is brought under control. Air quality impacts from Moderate to short periods of Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups can be expected in this area. Somewhat windy conditions today (Tuesday) could cause the Left Hand fire to grow. The nearby Pipeline fire is at 95 % containment with minimal fire behavior so should not contribute to degraded air quality much longer. See map below for location of these fires.

Left Hand.  31 mi NW of Yakima, WA. Start 7/23. Full Suppression. Cause: Lightning. 2,500 (+0) acres. 15% containment. Active fire behavior. Timber. Structures Threatened. Road and Area closures.  More details here: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6456/
Pipeline.  7 mi N of Selah, WA. Start 7/23. Full Suppression. Cause: Unknown. 6,515 (+0) acres. 95% containment. Minimal fire behavior. Brush. Area closures. Transfer of command back to local unit will occur today.

Location of Left Hand and Pipeline fires.
Another fire to watch over time is Devore Creek located in extremely rugged terrain high in the Glacier Peak wilderness near the north end of Lake Chelan. Firefighters on the scene in Stehekin report that air quality there has remained good. Due to the remote location and extreme terrain, firefighters expect this fire will not be 100 percent extinguished until a season ending rain or snow event in the fall. Some visible light smoke is possible at times around the north end of Lake Chelan, Stehekin, and Holden Village but unless fire conditions change, air quality is expected to remain Good.

Devore Creek.  3 mi SW of Stehekin, WA. Start 7/26. Confine/Point Zone Protection. Cause: Unknown. 150 (+0) acres. 0% containment. Timber. Trail closures. More details here: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6463/
Location of Devore Creek fire.

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