Delayed start to wildfire season means smokier days ahead

SPOKANE, Wash. — The Inland Northwest has had poor air quality in seven of the last 10 summers due to wildfire smoke, and with all the rain we’ve experienced this spring, it’s marked a delayed start to wildfire season.

While you might be thinking this will eliminate wildfire season entirely, that’s not necessarily true. The rain has delayed the season, but it’s also led to more growth, which can work as fuel for the fires.

Even if we do get out of this summer mostly unscathed, that doesn’t mean the area is in the clear from smoky days. Often, the smoke we get comes from hundreds of miles away, and we’ve already seen fires pop up in the Southwest.

In the meantime, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources is letting out a sigh of relief.

“Much, much more comfortable start to the fire season,” explained Thomas Kyle- Milward, DNR Wildfire Communications Manager. “The anticipation right now is that we’re going to see what we would characterize as normal fire season.”

The past two fire seasons were the second and third-worst on record when it comes to total acres burned in Washington State. With a slower, delayed start, they’re able to prepare.

“We’ve been able to get back to stuff we’ve done before which is increase time for personnel training, increase time for us to put together a pre-deployment strategy,” Kyle-Milward told us.

They’re also preparing at Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency.

“We can’t predict if it’s going to come but there’s a good chance it will be (smoky), given our past history,” said Lisa Woodard, Communication & Outreach Manager of Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency.

The preparation is particularly important for those 65 and older, those with chronic health conditions, children, and pregnant women and as we know, the only solution is to get indoors on smoky days.

However, sometimes the air quality in your home can be just as bad, if not worse, than outdoors if the right steps aren’t taken.

These solutions can help to keep the air in your home clean.

When we head into the wildfire season, it will be crucial to check the air quality daily, either with the KXLY Weather Team or at Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency.

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