We are now at one week of Air Quality Index values hitting around 500 +/- each day.
The outside air is unbreathable. We have been confined to our sealed house for a week. Only some very brief times have been outdoors and then only while wearing a home made, 3D printed dual-HEPA layers filtered mask that appears to effectively remove most of the smoke smell.
Much of this smoke is coming from the Lionshead Fire, a lightning started fire that began on August 16th. Much of its burn footprint is in a designated wilderness area. We have had hazy/smoky skies since August 21. By September 11th, our air quality went from merely poor to off scale. Literally off scale – as the AQI was above 500 on a scale that only goes to 500.
Anything above 300 is “hazardous”.
The August 16th fires exploded as high winds from an Arctic cold air mass/high pressure system poured in to the area, with winds of 55-75 mph on ridge tops, and 50 to 60 mph within canyons on the west side of the Cascades. This began on Sep 7 and finally died down on Sep 9th. In a matter of about a day, a 500 acre fire blew up to over 100,000 acres. The 22,000 acre Lionshead Fire is now up to almost 200,000 acres.
When fires are caused by natural forces in wilderness areas, the general policy is to let them burn. Additionally, as there are no existing roads, access is difficult. Plus mechanical contrivances are not allowed except – typically – to rescue seriously injured persons – thus the rule of thumb is to let them burn as part of natural processes.
For those of us downwind, our own lives are at stake from this foul air.
I do not know if they intend to let it burn or to fight it, or to only fight the parts outside the wilderness area. An incident commander was quoted yesterday saying this fire will not be out until winter comes – meaning that this fire may continue for another month or more.
This is a health disaster for the few hundred thousand of us living within this region. Sadly, no politician gives a damn – each is using these events to further their political ideologies – without actually solving real problems. All politicians are mostly scum – they are definitely not leaders and show few skills of actual leaders.
Update: We are now on day #8 with readings in the 400 to 500+ range. We can’t breathe either.