Fires Create Hazardous Air Quality In Ellensburg

<p>Smoke Over Ellensburg</p>

Smoke Over Ellensburg

Air quality in Ellensburg has reached hazardous levels, a week and a half after lightning caused over 100 fires in Kittitas and Yakima Counties.

The Department of Ecology is advising people to stay indoors until wind in the valley picks up.

Jessica Murillo is a native of wenatchee, and a freshman at central washington university.

Murillo says she's been in the area since the fires started and watched the hills slowly become engulfed by smoke.

"Each day would slowly get a little worse than the day before. I've been starting to get a lot headaches lately when I go outside. It's hard to breathe a bit," said Murillo.

It's been about a week and a half since a lightning storm started over 100 fires in Kittitas and Yakima Counties.

The fires, which were dubbed the Yakima Complex and Table Mountain fires, have burned about 3,900 acres.

Over 500 firefighters are in the area to fight the fires.

Crews say high winds a week ago prevented them from constructing effective fire lines, but now the decrease in wind has caused smoke to linger over the Kittitas Valley.

"The lack of wind has made to where the fire hasn't spread as fast --- and that's a good thing. But also, with the current weather conditions, we just really need a cold front or some kind of front to come in to help change the weather pattern," said Incident Response Public Information Officer, Tim Perciful.

The Kittitas County Department of Health says the best way to keep yourself safe is to stay inside at all times, keep all windows locked, and keep the fans running throughout the day.

"These reccomendations are especially important for sensitive populations like children, elderly infants, pregnant women, and people who have heart and lung conditions," said Department of Health Officer, Robin Read.

Jessica Murillo says she will be spending as much time inside once classes begin, and hopes others will do the same.

"I don't want anyone health-wise to just risk themselves because I just don't want them to suffer like a lot of people in the valley did," said Murillo.

The Kittitas County Department of Health says smoke could remain over Kittitas county through the weekend.

In the meantime, Governor Chris Gregoire has extended an emergency proclamation for counties east of the Cascades.

As a result, National Guard will continue to provide air support and a burn ban remains in effect until midnight Monday.