Blame Canada for smoke that gets in your skies in Yakima

   Blame Canada for smoke that gets in your skies in Yakima

20 July 2009

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USA — Wildfires in British Columbia are being blamed for the noticeably hazy skies above the Yakima Valley and Cascade Mountains.

And Yakima authorities are advising those with respiratory problems, heart conditions, as well as the elderly and very young, to take extra precautions.

“With the quality of the air right now, those people are well advised to limit their outside activities, to consolidate travel, if they have medications to keep them handy and make sure they have what their prescription calls for — like an asthmatic who might have an episode, keep their inhaler handy,” said Dave Caprile, a spokesman for the Yakima Regional Clean Air Agency.

The smoke is blamed on three largely uncontrolled fires burning in the West Kelowna area of B.C.’s Okanagan Valley, about 80 miles north of the U.S. border and 300 miles north of Yakima. With the weather forecast calling for days of continued hot and dry conditions, the fires aren’t expected to be brought under control any time soon.

An estimated 11,000 residents have been evacuated from the region after forest fires broke out there Saturday. The fires, at nearly 1,000 acres, are only about 40 percent contained, according to Canadian news services. At least nine homes have been destroyed.

Hundreds of firefighters and dozens of aircraft are fighting the fire where steep slopes, rough terrain and hot smoky conditions were making the work challenging for crews. At least 21/2 square miles had burned by Monday.

The only active wildland fire burning in Washington is the Shull Ridge fire in Whatcom County, about eight miles south of the Canadian border. It is estimated at about 100 acres.

“There is a fire burning (there)” said Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest fire staff officer Bobbie Scopa. “But, most of the smoke in this part of the state is drifting south from Canada.”

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