Fires In Canada And Northwest Contribute To Stifling Idaho Air

Aug 20, 2018

A view of Grangeville captured by the Department of Environmental Quality's visibility cameras on the morning of August 20 shows the thick and murky smoke-filled air.
Credit Idaho Department of Environmental Quality

Fires across Idaho are burning and creating smoky conditions in some regions. But the smoke from Gem State fires is just one reason for the haze blanketing much of the state.


The hazy sky over the Treasure Valley denotes the flagging air quality impacting all of the Gem State. While readings are coming in between “moderate” and “unhealthy” in southwest Idaho, it’s much worse up north.

“Coeur d’Alene’s monitor is reading an AQI (air quality index) of 213 which is ‘very unhealthy,’” says Shawn Sweetapple from the Department of Environmental Quality in Coeur d'Alene. “We’re way beyond green, yellow, red – we’re into purple now.”

“It’s like when you’re sitting around a campfire and how the smoke always seems to find you and you don’t want to sit in it,” Sweetapple says. “Well, we’re surrounded by it.”

The winds in the northern part of the state have uncharacteristically shifted and are bringing smoke down to Idaho from Canada. It’s even reaching all the way to the Treasure Valley.

The air monitoring coordinator at the DEQ’s Boise office, Mike Toole, says a cold front passing over the region is acting like a magnet for smoke and pollution. He calls the influx of smoke “significant” and doesn’t expect much immediate relief from the bad air in southwest Idaho.

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