Air Quality Alerts Extended As Smoke Lingers In Western Washington

SEATTLE — An air quality alert will remain in place through Thursday afternoon for Puget Sound as multiple fires continue to burn across the region.

State fire officials estimated the Loch Katrine Fire, burning about 30 miles east of Seattle, quickly grew to 2,000 acres in size by Sunday afternoon. The fire ignited on private land in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest amid red flag conditions and smoke was visible along the I-90 and I-405 corridors.

Other recent blazes, including the Suiattle River Fire burning in Skagit County and the Nakia Creek Fire in Clark County, add to the Bolt Creek Fire, which has burned more than 14,000 acres since igniting in early September and has pushed multiple rounds of smoke into the area.

Numerous new and ongoing fires are lighting up the heat signature map across Washington. Fire danger remains very high through the afternoon, but a marine push this evening will bring calmer conditions for the start of the week. #wawx #wafire
— Matthew Dehr (@WxDehr) October 16, 2022

According to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center, more than a dozen wildfires were burning in the region Monday.

While there are promising signs in the forecast for the long-awaited return of rain, smoke and poor air quality will continue to impact Western Washington through at least mid-week, according to the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.

“Wildfire smoke is causing air quality that is mostly moderate this morning,” officials wrote Monday. “More smoke expected in Snohomish [County], with areas closer to the fires near the cascades. Smoke impacts expected to worsen [Tuesday and Wednesday] until stronger winds arrive later this week.”

Smoke forecasts show air quality falling into “unhealthy for sensitive groups” or worse around Snohomish, King and Pierce counties Tuesday, before rebounding a little Wednesday and finally clearing up sometime Thursday as a very fall-like weather pattern makes its way toward Puget Sound.

“The majority of impacts are expected Tuesday and Wednesday but may extend into Thursday,” the extended alert reads. “The air quality along the Cascade Valleys may be further diminished during this period especially for locations near fires. Everyone, especially sensitive groups should limit time spent outdoors, avoid strenuous activities outside, and choose light indoor activities.”

Readers can check out the latest smoke forecasts on the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency’s website and find live conditions via the EPA’s AirNow tool.