No relief on the way for Inland Northwest air quality

Author: Colleen O'Brien, Reporter / Weekend Anchor, colleeno@kxly.com
Published On: Sep 20 2012 06:13:09 PM PDT   Updated On: Sep 20 2012 07:00:27 PM PDT
Spokane air quality
SPOKANE -

Wildfires are raging throughout Central Washington, sending smoke into the skies of the Inland Northwest.

The Table Mountain Fire is cover more than 9,000 acres. The Wenatchee Complex has burned 3,900 acres, the Okanogan Complex has burned 6,700 acres and the Yakima Complex has burned 3,000 acres.

Due to shifting winds and no rain, the smoke is settling into the region. Spokane's Air Quality index was set at 112 on a 200 scale today, according to the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency's website. At that level, the air is considered hazardous to those with asthma and allergies.

With no relief in sight I the form of rain, those scratchy, watering eyes and raspy throats will continue to irritate people around the region.

In Lewiston, hazardous smoke particles are lingering in the air. It was worse a couple of days ago, according to those living in Lewiston, and is just now beginning to lift.

"I don't even like going out in the car or anything because it was so cloudy," Ksandra Hund said.

"You walk out some time you have to cough, it's hard to breath sometimes," Nikki Barnes said.

In Spokane, it's the same story; scratchy throats and itchy, watering eyes. For those with lung conditions the symptoms are much worse.

"Common sense, if you can look outside and you can see that it's smoky, probably not a good idea if you have asthma to go running and to be exerting, kids with asthma probably shouldn't be out there," Doctor Steven Kernerman said.

The smoke is filling up Kernerman's waiting room with patients. His advice is for everyone to stay indoors as much as they can, especially children and elderly. Also, don't exert yourself while outside.

"Hope for rain or a shift in the wind," Kernerman said. "It's not the worst I've seen, thankfully it's not the worst I've seen, but this is, hopefully this won't stay around for too long because this will start to affect people, not just people with asthma, but other people, other populations."

All outdoor burning is banned by Governor Chris Gregoire's order. The use of fireplaces and non-EPA certified wood burning stoves and fireplace inserts are also banned until further notice.