Heavy smoke moving into Yakima Valley, visibility dropping, air quality "hazardous"


Forecasters are warning of unhealthy air in parts of the Pacific Northwest as winds push smoke from surrounding wildfires into the region.

The National Weather Service issued an air quality alert this weekend to take effect 10 a.m. Sunday and run through 5 p.m. Wednesday for Western Washington. Smoke could worsen into unhealthy levels by Monday, the agency said. Everyone should stay indoors.

Air quality could remain in the at least the "unhealthy" range or worse until at least Tuesday evening, according to the Benton Clean Air Agency.

Thick smoke from wildfires raging in British Columbia, Canada, and in the eastern portion of the state is expected to spread into western Washington starting Sunday.

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Air quality statements have been issued for Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, as well as northwestern Ontario.

Everyone should avoid all strenuous activity and close windows and doors, if possible, the Department of Ecology said.

"The millions of vehicles on Bay Area roads during these hot summer months create unhealthy air quality and make breathing more hard for many", said Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the air district. If you have an air conditioner, use the "recirculation" switch.

Respiratory masks sold at hardware and home fix stores may help protect from air pollution, according to the Washington state Department of Health.