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Wildfire smoke prompts air quality burn ban in Island, Skagit, Whatcom

Aug. 19, 2018

The Northwest Clean Air Agency is calling a Stage 1 air quality burn ban for Island, Skagit and Whatcom counties because high levels of harmful wildfire smoke particles are impairing local air quality.

The ban will start at 8 a.m. Monday and will remain in effect until further notice.

This air quality burn ban is separate from, and in addition to, fire safety burn bans already in effect because of increased fire danger in the three counties.

“Northwest Clean Air Agency is calling an air quality burn ban in addition to the existing fire safety burn bans to further reduce smoke in our area and protect public health,” said NWCAA Executive Director Mark Buford. “Once the air has cleared, we will remove the air quality burn ban. But the fire safety burn bans will remain in place until fire officials determine that fire danger has passed.”

People can inhale tiny smoke particles deeply into lungs and damage delicate tissues. That can trigger asthma attacks, cause difficulty breathing, and make lung and heart problems worse. Air pollution is especially harmful to children, people with heart and lung problems, and adults ages 65 and older.

No outdoor burning is allowed, including residential and agricultural burning, during a Stage 1 air quality burn ban. Home heating with fireplaces and uncertified wood stoves is also prohibited. This ban includes recreational fires like campfires and fire pits.

Burn ban violators could face fines and other enforcement actions.

The ban is based on weather forecasts and current air pollution from small particles. Right now, air quality is predicted to be worse than the national health-based standard for at least 24 hours.

Northwest Clean Air Agency will move to a Stage 2 burn ban if conditions get worse. Check NWCAA’s website (www.nwcleanairwa.gov) for up-to-date burn ban information or check Twitter (@NWCleanAir) or NWCAA’s Facebook page.

More information

  • Washington Smoke Information blog: wasmoke.blogspot.com
  • Statewide air quality monitoring: Washington Department of Ecology.
  • Health questions? Contact your local health department:
    • Skagit County Health: 360-416-1500
    • Island County Health: 360-679-7350
    • Whatcom County Health: 360-778-6000

The Northwest Clean Air Agency is responsible for enforcing federal, state and local air quality regulations in Island, Skagit, and Whatcom counties. In addition to permitting and regulating industrial sources of air pollution, the agency provides services and information related to asbestos, indoor air quality, outdoor burning, woodstoves and fireplaces. More information about the agency is available at www.nwcleanairwa.gov.