The Washington Department of Ecology now has an air quality alert in place for all of Chelan County through Friday at 9am. 

The alert has led the Chelan Douglas Health District (CDHD) to urge the public to be aware of the unhealthy air, especially in the Northern and Western parts of the county. 

CDHD Emergency Response Coordinator Kent Sisson says people in those areas need to have a plan to deal with smoky air. 

"It is unhealthy," said Sisson. "You know, you get above the moderate level, you really need to think about whether you want to spend a lot of time outside. And you really don't want to exercise or do anything that's going to get your heart rate up and breath in a lot more air in the outdoors." 

Areas around Lake Wenatchee and Lake Chelan have been getting consistently hit with smoke from fires in the region lately. 

Heavy smoke from the Airplane Lake Fire 22 miles northwest of Leavenworth has led to the poor air in the Lake Wenatchee area. 

The air quality in Okanogan County is even worse due to the Sourdough Fire west of Winthrop that's been burning since last month. A stretch of State Route 20 North Cascades Hwy is closed near Newhalem where the fire is adjacent to the roadway.  

Other fires contributing to the smoke in the region are the Dome Peak and Blue Lake fires. 

Sisson says people in the affected areas should consider wearing a mask. 

“We have N95 masks available at various distribution points throughout Chelan and Douglas counties,” Sisson said. “People can pick up an N95 mask and use when they are outdoors, especially if they work outdoors.” 

Smoke from wildfires can cause health problems, even for healthy people. 

According to CDHD, Symptoms related to unhealthy air quality may include: 

  • Water or dry eyes
  • Coughing/Wheezing or throat/sinus irritation
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches
  • Irregular heartbeat and chest pain

Anyone experiencing serious symptoms should seek medical attention immediately. 

The best protection from wildfire smoke is to stay indoors and keep indoor air space clean by improving filtration and creating a clean air room in a home. 

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