Sunday, April 11, 2021
April 11, 2021

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Smoke, hazardous air expected to linger in Clark County through weekend

There is optimism that better air quality could arrive within a week

By , Columbian staff writer, and
, Columbian Social Services, Demographics, Faith
Published:
3 Photos
Heisson resident and volunteer Elizabeth Stoltz waters the Fort Vancouver Garden in Vancouver on Friday. Stoltz said things were dried out because of the wind and smoke. "The wind sucks the life out of everything," she said. Stoltz is still not under evacuation from the Big Hollow Fire, but her family made a plan in case it gets to that point.
Heisson resident and volunteer Elizabeth Stoltz waters the Fort Vancouver Garden in Vancouver on Friday. Stoltz said things were dried out because of the wind and smoke. "The wind sucks the life out of everything," she said. Stoltz is still not under evacuation from the Big Hollow Fire, but her family made a plan in case it gets to that point. (Alisha Jucevic/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Hazardous air from area wildfires continued to linger in Clark County on Friday and is expected to stick around through the weekend, but there is optimism that improved air quality could arrive within the next week.

The Portland and Seattle metro areas registered the worst air quality in the world Friday, according to IQ Air, which ranks air quality across the globe.

According to the Washington Department of Ecology, Saturday’s air quality is expected to be the same or worse than Friday’s air quality.

Southwest Washington will likely remain under an air pollution advisory until noon Monday.

In the late afternoon Friday, Ecology showed small particulate pollution (PM2.5) levels in Vancouver at 318, and Yacolt at 326.

Both places fall into the hazardous air quality range, which is the worst category of air quality in Ecology’s rating system.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, hazardous air quality is a health warning of emergency conditions, with the entire population more likely to be affected by exposure, not just groups of people who are sensitive to poor air quality.

Public health officials advise that folks stay indoors, avoid exercise and close windows and doors. Set air conditioners to recirculate air if possible, and use a HEPA filter.

People with heart or lung disease, those who have experienced a stroke and others with pertinent health concerns should consult a health care provider about precautions they might need to take.

Council for the Homeless asks anyone who is homeless and needing shelter or housing assistance during these hazardous conditions to call the Housing Hotline at 360-695-9677 to learn about available resources. The hotline is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.

To aid the homeless community, Living Hope Church in central Vancouver is moving its tent encampment indoors until air quality improves. The city-sanctioned encampment has been in the church’s parking lot to provide a safe space for people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Christian church, which occupies a former Kmart at 2711 N.E. Andresen Road, announced Thursday night it’s open to wildfire evacuees, said Pastor Brian Norris. The Sikh community, which has provided meals for the homeless at the church most Sundays for the last few months, offered to make additional meals for evacuees if needed.

In a series of Tweets on Friday, the National Weather Service Portland expressed hope that air quality could improve within the next week. There are three specific reasons for optimism.

The first reason is that the dry east winds are over, and that the worst fire conditions should be done. Marine air is also expected to gradually work inland the next few days and push the worst smoke out of the Portland area.

And the biggest reason for optimism is that it’s expected to rain at some point next week, which could boost efforts to quell wildfires and help get rid of smoke.

Forecasts show multiple days next week with at least a 20 percent chance of rain. Tuesday has a 40 percent chance of rain, with morning showers expected.

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