'Stay Indoors': Air Quality Plummets In Seattle Area During Huge Wildfire

Sky filled with black smoke

Photo: Getty Images

As firefighters work hard to contain the Bolt Creek Fire, air quality around Seattle is plummeting. The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency is asking people to stay indoors due to winds pushing wildfire smoke into the metro area.

"This morning we are seeing air quality that is UNHEALTHY for everyone in downtown and north Seattle from a plume of smoke from the Bolt Creek fire," the agency tweeted early Wednesday (September 21). "Winds are blowing from Skykomish west to Everett then south to downtown. Stay indoors when possible."

According to the Washington Smoke blog, Bothell, Kingsgate, Woodinville, Lynnwood, Kirkland, and Bellevue showed unhealthy levels by 11 a.m. Some areas like Bellevue have improved since then, while others remain in the red or orange, the latter meaning unhealthy for "sensitive groups." That includes pregnant people, infants, young children, elderly individuals, and people with heart and lung conditions.

Places that are closer to the Bolt Creek fire, like Monroe and Gold Bar, are experiencing terrible air conditions, too. Despite the news, most of Western Washington's air quality is either moderate or good.

The National Weather Service says things should improve going into the night and by Thursday (September 22):

"Near surface smoke that's led to reduced air quality in the region will remain in the area today, but improving conditions are expected tonight and Thursday. Increasing onshore flow will begin to push the smoke eastward tomorrow."

Crews have contained 95% of the wildfire as of Wednesday afternoon, according to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center. Officials are investigating the cause of the fire.

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