By Sharon Bernstein and Matt McKnight
Fires in Oregon and Washington are covering much of the US Pacific Northwest, giving residents of Seattle, Portland and other parts of the two states the worst air quality in the US, according to government data. , making people suffocate.
In the Seattle area, home to about 4 million people, the sky was brown and the air was hard to breathe on Thursday. When the sun comes through it is orange.
“It blew me away,” said Joe Dinkins, who was waiting for a friend along the banks of the Elliott Bay waterfront in downtown Seattle on Thursday. “I usually walk around a lot, but I had to cut back on my exercise and take the bus instead.”
The 10 US locations with the worst air quality on Thursday were all in Washington or Oregon, led by Oakridge, Oregon, 150 miles (240 km) southeast of Portland. Oakridge’s air quality index is 487, which is hazardous, according to the federal website airnow.gov.
Seattle, with an air quality index of 207 and Portland, with 204, leads the major cities on the list, with air considered very unhealthy. Susan said the poor air quality caused by wildfire smoke at the end of the year like October is unprecedented in Washington Woodward (NASDAQ:), spokesman for the Washington State Department of Ecology.
“It’s a column of smoke to the ground right now,” she said.
The Air Quality Index measures a combination of ozone pollution and particulate pollution in the air.
In Portland, the air is hazy and people wear N95 masks outside as they walk or cycle through town, Harry Esteve, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, said Thursday.
In Oregon, smoke from many fires was kept close to the ground by a weather system, he said.
On Thursday, Oregon expanded an air quality advisory program to most of the state, including the Portland metro area, urging people to stay indoors where possible and use public information systems. filtered air or air purifier.
Rain is expected on Friday across the region to aid firefighting efforts and improve air quality.
But Esteve said that officials working to extinguish many of the fires burning in Oregon fear that extreme dry conditions during the summer have caused brushes and other fuels used to fight fires to dry out to the point of need. lots of moisture to extinguish them. As a result, the fires could continue to smolder and produce smoke despite anticipated rainfall, he said.
The federal government’s InciWeb wildfire information page shows more than two dozen wildfires currently burning in Washington and Oregon. About 10 fires that burned within a few hours’ drive from Portland contributed to the smoky atmosphere there, officials said earlier this week.