SMOKE-an

This past weekend was a little hazy. No, it wasn’t because I hit the beer cooler too hard—heck, I am on a dental medication that won’t even let me take a sip of alcohol—but because of actual smoke that turned the Spokane air into a hazardous mess.

During this time of the year, South Carolina has hurricanes and Washington has wildfires. Although the former posed a more serious threat to my family than the latter, that’s not to say the byproduct of devastating fires is anything to brush off.

This month I have watched the local news solemnly as wildfires rage all over our state. These infernos have literally destroyed communities and burned hundreds of thousands of acres. There is no such thing as a break in 2020.

On Saturday, the Spokane Valley was reminded of the catastrophic flames in other parts of the state by hazy smoke that ushered itself in prior to breakfast. As the sun rose, I stood out on my back deck to this…

This is what it looked like outside from my back deck on Saturday.

What was supposed to be a 90-degree day never even topped 80. The sun remained a weird pinkish orb. Walk outside and the strong smell of smoke automatically overwhelmed you. Walk back in and you smelled like a campfire. Forget the bright September day, it was dark and eerie.

A look at the smoke as we drove down Sprague. Notice the sun in the top left hand corner of the image.

But for all the oddities that came with the smoke settling in the valley that is Spokane, the threat it posed was definitely most concerning. When the air category is at a “good” level, it hovers under a value of 50 on a scale of 500. On Friday, when the smoke started to settle in our area, it reached a mark of 170. By Saturday and through Sunday, it reached a staggering 499! That isn’t just unhealthy, it is HAZARDOUS.

The conditions climbed to 499!

The smokey conditions didn’t improve much today. I am still not comfortable letting my daughter go outside to play. Unfortunately, the wildfires still rage. Although Spokane will soon be spared the smoke, other towns will still be engulfed by the flames. We need to pray for favorable weather conditions, smart decisions by citizens, and the safety of fire fighters. Don’t Blink.

We Didn’t Start the Fire

Last night I sat down to watch the 11 p.m. Myrtle Beach local news. Leading the newscast off was a national story far away from the southeastern coast. WPDE Anchor Alex Heaton threw the newscast to a taped piece on the ravaging wildfires in Washington state. As I have mentioned before, if national coverage on the area I grew up in doesn’t have to do with our sports teams, it usually isn’t good news. Of course this again was the case.

I watched the local Myrtle Beach WPDE broadcast last night as anchorwoman Alex Heaton talked about the Washington state wildfires.

I watched the local Myrtle Beach WPDE broadcast last night as anchorwoman Alex Heaton talked about the Washington state wildfires.

I didn’t need the report from the Myrtle Beach station roughly 3,000 miles away from the state of Washington to bring me up to speed on the severity of the situation, however. I follow enough Pacific Northwest twitter accounts and read a couple of online versions of Washington newspapers to know that the wildfires have skyrocketed out of control. But neither social media nor the web has explained to me the carnage as adequately as another source.

My family.

Every time I have talked with my mom or other members of my immediate family over the past couple weeks all they can talk about at first is how smoky it is. Growing up in Washington state and then living in Montana I have experienced extremely smoky summers. However, my family tells me this year it is at a completely different level.

In this text message between my mom and I, she said that it is so smoky in her neck of the woods that she has to wear a mask when taking a walk.

In this text message between my mom and I, she said that it is so smoky in her neck of the woods that she has to wear a mask when taking a walk.

When the smoke is so bad you have to wear a mask you know you are living in a place that was rightfully declared in a state of emergency. Well, either that or you look at a map like the one below to see how prevalent this problem really is.

The whole state of Washington is either at high (yellow) or very high/extreme (red) fire danger.

The whole state of Washington is either at high (yellow) or very high/extreme (red) fire danger.

Living in a smoky area is a different type of feeling. It immediately puts you in a haze. Everything all of a sudden is viewed through a grayish-orange tint. Yes, everywhere you walk outside smells like a giant campfire but that gets old after a while. You quickly realize that the smell is not coming from a campfire where people are telling stories and roasting marshmallows. Rather, it sets in that the smell is the byproduct of destruction and danger.

People have lost their lives and countless houses have burned. My family couldn’t be safer but they do have to deal with the nasty air. I pray for milder temperatures, safety for the firefighters, and some heavy rain. I know we live in a world with greater tragedies than this but it wouldn’t hurt to take a second and think about the state of Washington. Don’t Blink.