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Northwest wildfires continue to impact communities, air quality

Seattle ranked the worst city in the world for air quality and pollution.
Northwest wildfires continue to impact communities, air quality
Posted at 6:25 PM, Aug 21, 2023

The Pacific Northwest, especially Washington state, is getting hit with a one-two-three punch of wildfire smoke.

Wildfires burning in the Northwest territories of Canada, Eastern Washington near Spokane and fires in North Cascades National park are dramatically impacting air quality, but also upending lives and destroying homes.

In Elk, Washington, Ryan Kraus surveyed the ruins of his home, one of many destroyed by wildfires over the weekend. 

"We were doing some pretty decent fire prevention, but when it happens, there's nothing you can do. And in 15 to 20 minutes it went from 'I think that they've got this handled. I'm sure that they can,' to 'We've got to go right now,'" he said. 

Wildfires in Eastern Washington, near Spokane, have destroyed more than 200 homes and killed at least one person. Just one of the factors that led to what was seen over the weekend: Thick wildfire smoke hanging over the Seattle skyline. On Sunday evening, Seattle and the surrounding area had the worst air quality among 90 major cities in the world — with a ranking of 190, or Unhealthy.

As of Monday, Seattle's air quality improved from Unhealthy to Moderate. Another contributing factor to the poor air quality: Fires raging through Canada's northwest territories.

Wildfires there have destroyed buildings and large parts of communities, especially in West Kelowna and Enterprise.

Tens of thousands of people in Yellowknife evacuated their home, and a state of emergency has been declared there as well as in Washington state.

SEE MORE: Wildfire forces city of Yellowknife in Canada to evacuate

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