Progress In Wildfire Fight, But Stagnant, Smoky Air Lingers

Sep 21, 2012

In central Washington, fire commanders report progress securing fire lines and limiting the spread of wildfires in the direction of threatened homes. But smoky air continues to stress thousands of people in Wenatchee, Cashmere, Entiat and Chelan.

National Weather Service meteorologist Paul Bos says the passage of a weak cold front tonight into tomorrow could bring a little relief, but it's just temporary.

Bos: "Once we get through tomorrow, it looks like a second front moves through on Sunday -- similar situation -- then we really start going into a stagnant pattern, unfortunately. And it is those stagnant patterns that have been causing real problems on the east slopes of the Cascades."

This morning, pollution monitors in Wenatchee and Cashmere again categorized the air as "hazardous" to breathe. The smoky air in Ellensburg and Leavenworth clocks in as "very unhealthy." Air quality in Seattle is unaffected today.

Several establishments in Wenatchee are passing out free face masks today, while supplies last.

The unhealthy air has forced area high schools and Central Washington University to relocate sports games. Central moved Saturday's homecoming football game against Azusa Pacific from Ellensburg to a Seattle suburb. Tonight's crosstown rivalry game between Wenatchee and Eastmont high schools will be played in Moses Lake.

Meanwhile, a growing fire on the slopes of Mount Adams in south central Washington has temporarily closed the Pacific Crest Trail.

Also, US Highway 97 over Blewett Pass is closed today until 6 p.m. so that firefighters can prepare the road corridor for use as a possible fire line.

There are now more than 2,000 firefighters and support personnel assigned just to the wildfires in Chelan County. More than 3,000 other fire crew members are working other wildfires throughout the Cascades.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

On the Web:

Washington fire smoke info: