Burn bans increased due to air quality

August 20, 2018

Increased burn restrictions took effect Monday morning due to wildfire smoke that has settled into Skagit County and surrounding areas, impacting air quality.

The Northwest Clean Air Agency at 8 a.m. started a Stage 1 air quality burn ban for Skagit, Island and Whatcom counties because of wildfire smoke particles that are in the air.

“Northwest Clean Air Agency is calling an air quality burn ban in addition to the existing fire safety burn bans to further reduce smoke in our area and protect public health,” agency Executive Director Mark Buford said in a news release.

No burning is allowed during the air quality burn ban, including agricultural burning, recreational fires and using home fireplaces or wood stoves, according to the release.

The air quality ban is in addition to other burn bans and burning regulations that have been put in place by the county, cities and agencies that manage public lands.

Wildfire smoke coming from fires elsewhere in the region can cause air quality to become unhealthy for children, pregnant women, the elderly or those with heart and lung disease, respiratory infections, asthma, diabetes or other health conditions, according to an earlier news release from Skagit County Public Health.

While wildfire smoke is in the county, Public Health recommends limiting outdoor activity and keeping doors and windows closed.

Due to wildfire smoke in the area and the weather forecast, air quality is expected to be worse than the national health standard for at least 24 hours, according to the Northwest Clean Air Agency release.

Also Monday, the National Weather Service issued an air quality alert and red flag warning for Skagit and surrounding counties.

The air quality alert is in effect until 5 p.m. Wednesday due to the incoming wildfire smoke and the red flag warning is in effect until 6 p.m. today.

The red flag warning means that wind gusts and low humidity in the west side of the North Cascades could spread existing fires downwind, according to the alert.

The Northwest Clean Air Agency’s Stage 1 air quality burn ban will remain in effect until air quality improves, or will be moved to a Stage 2 ban if conditions worsen.

The agency regulates air quality in Whatcom, Skagit and Island counties in accordance with federal, state and local air quality rules.

For the latest information from the Northwest Clean Air Agency, visit nwcleanairwa.gov or follow the agency on Twitter at @NWCleanAir.

For local burning regulations, check with Skagit County or the city you live in.

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