Okanogan County Public Health issues air quality alert
TONASKET – The Newby Lake wildfire, in Canada and the Pasayten Wilderness, was pushed by wind to the east and south past the international border again, making its way to the headwaters of Long Draw Creek west of Goodenough Peak.
BC Wildfire Service indicates the cause of the fire to be lightning and was discovered July 2. The fire crossed from the Snowy Protected Area in Canada into the United States.
“This naturally-occurring fire is burning in the remote wilderness. The BC Wildfire Service is actively monitoring this incident and assessing potential wildfire response tactics. Fire Officers are working closely with our partners in the United States to coordinate wildfire response,” reports the BC Wildfire Service, which estimates the fire to be 1,453 acres (588 hectares).
Five fire crews and a Type 2 incident management team have been ordered and the team was briefed Monday, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The area closure that has been in place will be expanded to encompass all National Forest Lands (both in and out of the Pasayten Wilderness) north of Fourteen Mile and Iron Gate Trailheads and from Windy Peak north to Haig Mountain and the Canadian Border. The Pasayten Wilderness encompasses 531,000 acres, skirting more than 50 miles of Canada’s border and encompassing the crest of the Cascades.
Smoke coming from the direction of Loomis, could be seen in Oroville and Tonasket on Monday and Tuesday. An Incident Team was setting up at the Tonasket School District and Tonasket City Hall was contacted about the staging of around five helicopters and 30 personnel at the Tonasket Airport, according to Tonasket Mayor Patrick Plumb.
“Please keep your eye out for fire traffic on Tonasket Airport Road. I would assume that they will start having public meetings on fire status and if I am supplied that information I will share it. At this time Tonasket is under no fire danger or any specific watch other than normal fire weather warnings,” said the mayor.
The Forest Service is working closely with their partners at BC Wildfire Service and Washington State Department of Natural Resources to coordinate wildfire response and public information. Additional information, including maps and photos, is at inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/ or bcwildfire.ca.
The Province of BC is cautioning all British Columbians to be diligent with fire safety and report all wildfires to authorities as 184 active fires are being fought across British Columbia with nine evacuation alerts and orders currently in effect, impacting over 800 homes.
As of July 9 Campfires have been prohibited across the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and there is a burn ban in place for all of Okanogan County, as well as on DNR state land.
Poor Air Quality
OKANOGAN – In response to the current fire conditions Okanogan County Public Health has released an advisory regarding periods of poor air quality and people who may be most sensitive to the smoke in the air.
As smoke from fires burning in Okanogan and surrounding counties and Canada moves over Okanogan County, individuals most sensitive or susceptible to airborne particulates such as infants and young children, the elderly, pregnant women, diabetics or those with pre-existing lung and cardiovascular conditions may be experiencing considerable discomfort, according to David Hilton, Environmental Health Director with Okanogan County Public Health.
“Occasional periods of poor air quality are expected in Okanogan County this week with smoke-related particulates reaching levels considered unhealthy for sensitive groups,” Hilton writes. “According to the latest Smoke Management/Weather forecast information available, these periods of poor air quality are expected to occur intermittently through the week.”
To alleviate or mitigate some of the smoke’s effects take the following measures: Stay indoors with the windows closed. Use the recycle or re-circulate setting on your vehicle’s air conditioner. During hot weather if you do not have air conditioning then consider visiting a place that does, such as a friend’s house, relative’s house, or a public library. Don’t smoke and try to avoid physical exertion. Lastly, if you experience symptoms of cardiovascular or lung problems contact your health care provider. If you cannot reach your health care provider call 911.
More information is available concerning air quality at the following websites:
Should you have any questions regarding this information please contact the Okanogan County Public Health office at 509-422-7140. Normal office hours are Monday through Friday, 7:30am to 4:30pm.