There are seven active wildfires near Longview, and the proof is literally in the air with multiple air monitoring agencies issuing advisories to the public as smoke from the fires have reached or are nearing unhealthy levels.
The Nakia Creek and Siouxon fires have scorched nearly 2,000 acres of forest land in Clark and Skamania counties and are nowhere near being contained by emergency personnel, according to the wildfire tracker inciweb.nwcg.gov
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Fishhawk Loop Fire nearby in Clatsop State Forest in Mist, Oregon also started Friday and has already burned 100 acres of forest land.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Washington State Department of Ecology placed Longview’s air quality in the moderate category and asked residents to close their windows to avoid the outdoor air. The department is asking residents who are especially sensitive to poor air conditions to reduce their exposure to outside. The National Weather Service is recommending parents keep their children inside if smoke is visible.
The air quality in Yacolt, about 50 minutes south of Longview, was in the unhealthy range Tuesday afternoon.
The air quality advisory for the region will remain in effect until 6 p.m. Thursday, when professionals expect the weather to improve. Winds and rain will arrive by Friday evening, with another storm system expected to arrive soon after.
The National Weather Service forecasts cool, wet, fall-like weather this weekend, including a high of 61 degrees on Friday and a high of 57 degrees on Saturday in Kelso.
Meanwhile, pollutants from the current smoke can cause burning eyes, runny nose, heart and lung diseases, plus other health issues, experts say.
The Southwest Clean Air Agency issued a Stage 2 burn ban for Clark, Cowlitz and Lewis counties effective until noon Thursday due to increasing levels of pollution reaching unhealthy levels for sensitive groups, the agency announced Tuesday.
All outdoor burning and the use of all fireplaces, wood stoves and inserts is prohibited until further notice. Those with wood burning as their only source of heat are exempt from this ban, officials say.
The agency’s burn ban is in addition to the current ban in Cowlitz County. Cowlitz County officials announced Sept. 28 the seasonal burn ban for the area would be extended until further notice, along with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and Clark, Skamania, Pacific, Lewis and Wahkiakum counties. All land clearing, residential and silvicultural burning is prohibited within the unincorporated areas of Cowlitz County until the ban is lifted, the county reports.