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Hazardous air quality, wildfire smoke impacting Camas-Washougal area

City of Camas closes curbside pickups at library on Friday; weather forecasters say air quality should improve early next week

A photo of the Big Hollow fire, burning east and north of the Trapper Creek Wilderness in the Mt. Adams Ranger District, which has prompted Level 1 and 2 (Get Ready and Get Set) evacuation notices in North Clark County. (Photo courtesy of Gifford Pinchot National Forest Service)

A fishing boat cruises by the Washougal Waterfront Park on Friday, Sept. 11. Smoke from wildfires burning throughout Oregon and California have severely reduced air quality in Camas-Washougal. The air quality in Clark County on Friday was in the hazardous zone, with no relief expected until at least Sunday. (Photos by Kelly Moyer/Post-Record)

A sign on Highway 14 between Camas and Vancouver reminds drivers to "Mask Up, Stay Safe" on Friday, Sept. 11. Smoke from wildfires burning throughout Oregon and California have made the air quality in Clark County dip into the "hazardous" zone this week. (Photo by Kelly Moyer/Post-Record)

Air quality throughout the Camas-Washougal area has plummeted into the “hazardous” zone due to multiple wildfires burning in Southwest Washington and Northwest Oregon. 

As of 9 a.m. this morning, the official Air Quality Index for Camas-Washougal was at a 311, in the hazardous range, the most severe on the air quality index. 

Air quality in the nearby Columbia River Gorge was just slightly better: Stevenson in Skamania County was at a 171 on the index, in the “unhealthy” range. 

The hazardous air conditions prompted the city of Camas to cancel curbside pickups at the Camas Public Library on Friday, Sept. 11. Library staff are in the building and available via phone to arrange pickups for next week. 

Meteorologists with the National Weather Service said Friday that there are reasons to be optimistic about the upcoming weather in the region. 

“Chances for rain return early next week,” NWS Portland tweeted Friday morning. “Marine air (will) gradually (be) working inland (over the) next few days, pushing the worst of the smoke out.” 

There are several wildfires burning in the region, including the Riverside and Beachie Creek fires southeast of Portland, which have burned at least 310,000 acres since Monday, Sept. 7, and caused mass evacuations throughout Oregon’s Clackamas and Marion counties; and the Big Hollow burning east and north of the Trapper Creek Wilderness area near the Yale Reservoir in Southwest Washington, which prompted Level 1 (Get Ready) and Level 2 (Get Set) evacuation notices for communities in North Clark County this week.

According to the Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency (CRESA), most of the smoke in the Camas-Washougal and Vancouver region is not coming from the Big Hollow fire but rather from the wildfires burning in Oregon and California.

For more information about air quality in the area, visit AirNow.gov. 

AirNow, a partnership of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Park Service, NASA, Centers for Disease Control and tribal, state and local air quality agencies, warns that wildfire smoke impacts everyone’s health, but especially those who have heart of lung disease; older adults; children, including teenagers; people with diabetes; and pregnant women. 

“If it looks or smells smoky outside, it’s probably not a good time to mow the lawn or go for a run,” AirNow warns on its website. “And it’s probably not a good time for children, especially children with asthma, to be vigorously active outdoors, or active outdoors for prolonged periods of time.” 

For more information about how wildfire smoke can affect your health, visit airnow.gov/air-quality-and-health/how-smoke-from-fires-can-affect-your-health.