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A smoky haze returns to Seattle as wildfire burns in the Cascades

But it’s not as thick as earlier this summer—and shouldn’t last as long

Those watching the sun rise over the Cascades this morning may have noticed a familiar sight: a hazy red sun rising up through a layer of smoke.

Like the blanket of smoke around Seattle earlier this summer, it’s from wildfires. But unlike earlier this summer, the source is closer, air quality issues aren’t quite as widespread, and it shouldn’t last as long.

This time around, the smoke is coming from a wildfire in the Cascades on Jolly Mountain, near Cle Elum. The fire has been raging since August 11, ignited by a lightning strike. As of Friday, the fire had spread to 2,707 acres in the Cascades.

The fire has closed many roads, trails, and campsites in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and prompted some evacuations.

While there’s not a burn ban in Seattle right now for air quality, there is a burn ban in King County for fire safety—and throughout the entire Cle Elum Ranger District.

Progression Map Update 8/28/17 #jollymountainfire

Posted by Jolly Mountain Fire Info on Monday, August 28, 2017

Western Washington is experiencing hot and dry weather, putting the region at an increased risk of fire—especially in the Cascades.

As of late Monday morning, the Washington State Department of Ecology shows Seattle’s air quality as largely “moderate”—”people with asthma, respiratory infection, diabetes, lung or heart disease, or have had a stroke may begin to have breathing problems”—with one sensor reading showing “good” air quality and another showing “unhealthy for sensitive groups.”

North of Seattle, air quality is largely “good,” although air quality as far south as Tacoma is “moderate.”

PNW Smoke Cooperators, a collaboration between various regional agencies, said Sunday that the smoke should descend upon Seattle over the course of Monday. This wave of smoke should clear out of Seattle in the next day or so—around Tuesday night, said the National Weather Service’s Seattle chapter on Twitter.

While Smoke Cooperators also said the smoke should clear Tuesday, they note with the dry conditions and high fire risk in the Cascades, it’s possible more smoke could be coming.

They said Washington State smoke levels have been “very widespread” this year, largely because of the British Columbia fires that caused the long haze earlier this summer, although in 2015, more wildfires burned within the state than in the previous five combined.