Wildfires, air quality & climate change

We're committed to reducing and preparing for climate change impacts. Because of climate change, wildfires in Washington are on the rise. Higher temperatures and less precipitation are expected to cause larger and more intense fires. Wildfires threaten air quality, economy, and the environment.

Rising temperatures prime our state for larger, more intense wildfires

Warmer and drier summer conditions mean increased wildfire risk and current climate change modeling indicates these conditions are likely to become the norm in the decades ahead.

Rising temperatures, more frequent and longer lasting heat waves, and drier summers are expected to contribute to larger, more severe wildfires. Climate scientists project the area burned by fire in the Northwest may reach 1.1 million acres per year by the 2040s. This puts both Washington’s air quality and forestlands at risk.

Click to enlarge map.

Wildfires threaten health, economy, and environment

As the frequency and intensity of wildfires increase so do their impacts. Wildfires:

  • Cause unhealthy levels of air quality  that creates respiratory problems for some people.
  • Threaten homes, property, and agriculture.
  • Destroy forestland and its resources.
  • Damage habitat for wildlife.

We are monitoring air quality

Reducing and preparing for climate impacts, including wildfire, is one of our priorities. We use air monitors around the state to track air quality. Our network of monitors operate year round measuring air pollution. During wildfires we often add more monitors. Visit our air monitoring page to view air quality levels in your community.

Director Maia Bellon's announcement of Washington's first-ever regulation to cap and reduce carbon pollution to slow climate change.