Monday, September 24, 2012

Air Time: Governor extends Eastern WA burn ban

Air Quality Program, air monitoring updates

The Governor's Office issued the following news release late Monday (Sept. 24, 2012). For more information on the current wildfires in Washington, see

Gov. Gregoire extends Eastern Washington burn ban

OLYMPIA – Gov. Chris Gregoire tonight extended a burn ban for all counties east of the Cascade crest, prohibiting all outdoor burning through midnight Sunday, Sept. 30. An emergency proclamation declaring a State of Emergency remains in effect, and allows continued air support from Washington’s National Guard to help fight ongoing wildfires.

“One reason firefighters have been able to start gaining ground is because they’re not being diverted to additional, human-caused fires,” Gregoire said. “With the warm, dry conditions expected to continue through at least next weekend, fire danger remains very high. I appreciate the cooperation of Washingtonians who have refrained from burning, and recognize that fire crews need our support and help to keep people safe and protect property.”

The burn ban prohibits all outdoor burning, including but not limited to:
  • Campfires
  • Bonfires
  • Residential yard debris clean-up, trash disposal, land clearing, weed abatement and agricultural burning activity
  • Ignition of fireworks.
Liquid fueled or gas-fueled stoves are permitted provided the use is conducted over a non-flammable surface and at least five feet from flammable vegetation. Charcoal grills are permitted at private residences under the same conditions.

The proclamation issued by the governor:
  • Directs state agencies and departments to continue to utilize state resources and to do everything reasonably possible to assist affected political subdivisions in an effort to respond to and recover from the fires;
  • Notes the order into active state service of the organized militia of Washington state, to include the National Guard and the State Guard remains in effect; and
  • Instructs the Washington State Emergency Operations Center to continue to coordinate all event-related assistance to the affected areas.
Meanwhile, Gregoire continues to urge Washingtonians to protect themselves from smoke-filled air. The state’s Department of Ecology is monitoring air quality across Washington state. Today, air quality in Central Washington is “unhealthy” for everyone. And in both Wenatchee and Ellensburg air quality is worse and registers as “hazardous” and “very unhealthy” respectively. Pateros and Entiat also are reporting “very unhealthy” air.

Farther south of Toppenish, and in much of Eastern Washington, residents are experiencing air quality that is “unhealthy for sensitive groups” such as the elderly, very young children and people with breathing difficulties, heart disease or lung disease. Today Walla Walla and the Tri-Cities are enjoying a reprieve from unhealthy air.

Light winds over the Cascades today are not expected to help much with smoke in the hard-hit communities. Computer models predict some moderate winds later today, which could lead to good dispersion in Ellensburg, Leavenworth and the Methow Valley.

To check for air quality monitoring information, visit:

Meanwhile, the Washington State Department of Health is providing answers to frequently asked questions about wildfire smoke here:

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