Smoke from wildfires in eastern Washington and Canada contribute to the red, smokey sunrise on Sunday over Port Townsend. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)

Smoke from wildfires in eastern Washington and Canada contribute to the red, smokey sunrise on Sunday over Port Townsend. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)

Smoke to begin to waft away today

Wildfires in other areas soil air quality on Peninsula

Smoke from multiple wildfires elsewhere swathed the North Olympic Peninsula this weekend, but the foul haze was expected to gradually be pushed out of the area today.

Air quality across the Peninsula ranged from “moderate” to “unhealthy for sensitive groups” to even “unhealthy” for all on Saturday and Sunday. The lone exception, according to measurements reported by the state Air Quality Index, was Forks, which appeared to remain in the “good” category this weekend.

An offshore flow is expected to begin to move the smoke east of the Peninsula this afternoon, said Dustin Guy, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Seattle on Sunday.

“A trend toward improvement is coming,” said Guy, who noted that an air quality alert issued by state air quality agencies for Saturday until noon today remained in effect on Sunday.

The smoke will thin out as a weak weather system moves into the area today and sends the pollution east, he said.

However, there is more smoke sitting over the Pacific west of Forks and that will flow in, Guy said.

“Some smoke has been pushed offshore so now that will have to make a return trip back onto shore,” he said Sunday. “It’s going to be a gradual process, but we’re expecting improving conditions sometime (today).”

Wildfires in eastern Washington, the Cascades and in British Columbia are defiling the air of the Peninsula, increasing the amount of PM2.5 particles.

On Saturday, Gov. Jay Inslee issued an emergency proclamation declaring a state of emergency related to the state’s wildfires.

The Washington Military Department has activated the State Emergency Operations Center, implemented response procedures, and was coordinating resources to support state and local officials to alleviate the immediate social and economic impacts to people, property and infrastructure, the governor’s office said.

Grays Fire had burned more than 10,000 acres and was only 10 percent contained as of Sunday afternoon. It had started on Friday and quickly spread in the area of Medical Lake, Four Lakes and Silver Lake near Spokane.

At last one person is reported to have died and 185 structures destroyed. Level 2 and Level 3 evacuations continued. Interstate 90 remained closed in the area on Sunday.

The Oregon Road fire north of Spokane had burned over 9,200 acres as of Sunday afternoon, according to KXLY. More than 150 homes were threatened and Level 3 evacuations were in place.

The causes of the Spokane-area fires had not been determined as of Sunday.

British Columbia also was under a state of emergency order early on Saturday because of wildfires, according to the New York Times.

The Crater Creek Fire had crept over the border from British Columbia and had burned some 8,000 acres in the U.S., in the Pasayten Wilderness as of Sunday, according to Inciweb. The lightening-caused fire has consumed at least 54,000 acres in a remote location and not threatening any structures.

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Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at

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