As per reports, the air quality will degrade further by the weekend. The state Department of Ecology has stated that a “supermassive body of smoke” from California and Oregon is moving towards Southwest Washington. Reportedly, it shall bring unhealthy or worse air levels to Southwest and Western Washington, the Columbia Basin, and Spokane. The air quality has been rated as ‘hazardous’ in Western Washington. This is the worst ecological rating so far. Additionally, the Columbia River Gorge region will be worse by Friday morning. In some places, the heavy smoke is resulting in poor visibility.
Washington state, Predictions for the Weekend Forecast
The Department of Ecology has issued a statewide air quality alert through the weekend. However, the Benton County Clean Air Agency has issued the same until Monday, at least. The citizens residing in these harmful regions have been asked to stay at home and protect their health. They’ve also been given tips to ensure the safety of themselves and their loved ones.
Hopefully, a cold front shall move in on Monday. This could be essential in eliminating some of the smoke. If lucky, the state may also experience rains, which will be of great help to the firefighters. On Thursday, the state experienced calmer winds that kept the temperatures cool. As per the Department of Ecology, this weather helped the firefighters in containing some amount of fire.
COVID-19 x Wildfires
Everyone experiencing the wildfires in Oregon, California, and the neighboring states are in a major fix at the moment. The pandemic and wildfires could not have occurred at a worse moment. The Washington State Department of Health is concerned that the smoke will be one factor due to which the COVID-19 symptoms will flare. Smoke will be the worst enemy for those who are already suffering from the virus. As per the ecology department, N-95 masks, HEPA filters, air purifiers, and clean rooms shall be the best way to avoid inhaling the smoke.
Children and senior citizens are the most at-risk, especially those with pre-existing health conditions. Dr. Amy Person, health officer for the Benton Franklin Health District, is concerned that some people may perceive COVID-19 symptoms to be an effect of the smoke. She has encouraged timely testing to identify those who are infected and prevent the virus from spreading further.
Effects of the wildfires so far
Roughly, 600,000 acres have burned in the wildfires as of Monday. Washington’s largest fire, the Cold Springs Fire in Okanogan County, has burned more than 170,000 acres and claimed the life of a 1-year-old. His parents are in critical condition at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
As per Kate Brown, the Governor of Oregon, the wildfires there are probably the worst the state has ever seen. Thousands of homes have been destroyed. Millions of acres have been burned in California, killing three people.