Wildfires in Washington are on the rise due to increased temperatures and less precipitation. Wildfires threaten air quality, health, the environment, and the economy.
When wildfires occur, we notify the public of poor air quality that may impact their health, and forecast smoke conditions. We do this in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, the Washington departments of Natural Resources and Health, and the National Weather Service.
We are monitoring air quality
We use air monitors around the state to track air quality. Our network of monitors measure air pollution year-round. During wildfires, we often add more monitors. Visit our air monitoring page
to view air quality levels in your community and be sure to check for burn bans
This map uses the Federal Air Quality Index (AQI). You may notice discrepancies in colors shown on this map and those reported on Washington's Air Monitoring Network. This is because Washington uses the Washington Air Quality Advisory (WAQA) index that is more protective of public health than the AQI. If in doubt as to which better represents public health risk, use the more stringent of the two (i.e., the map showing worse air quality).
View the Washington Smoke Blog for more information on current wildfire smoke and air quality conditions, updated daily during wildfire season.
Health effects of wildfire smoke
Wildfire smoke is made up of gases and particulate matter
from burning trees and other plant materials. The gases and particles can be dangerous if inhaled. In wildfires, carbon monoxide is mainly a risk to people who work near smoldering areas. Smoke can irritate your eyes and worsen chronic heart and lung disease. The amount and length of smoke exposure, as well as a person's age and degree of susceptibility, play a role in determining if someone will experience smoke-related health problems. If you are experiencing serious symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
Wildfires in Washington
Rising temperatures, more frequent and longer heat waves, and drier summers increase the risk of wildfire. Current climate change
modeling indicates these conditions are likely to become the norm in the decades ahead. Climate scientists project 1.1 million acres per year will burn by the 2040s putting Washington’s air quality and forestlands at risk.
As the frequency and intensity of wildfires increase so do their impacts. Wildfires can:
- Cause unhealthy levels of air quality creating respiratory problems for some people.
- Threaten homes, property, and agriculture.
- Destroy forestland and its resources.
- Damage habitat for wildlife.
You can learn more about current wildfire response and historical information by visiting the Department of Natural Resources website