FIRE & SMOKE—WESTERN WASHINGTON’S NEW NORMAL

September 17 at 7 p.m. 

 On the wetter side of the Cascades, we don’t expect wildfires. But western Washington, including the Puget Sound area, is getting hotter and dryer–and more combustible—every summer.  Add to that the warm, dry air blowing in from the east, often carrying smoke and ash, and you have potentially very dangerous conditions. About forty percent of Washington’s wildfires have occurred on the west side of the state for the past few years.  

Will It Only Get Worse? The speaker for our September Tuesday Talk will be Joshua Halofsky, a Research Scientist from the Department of Natural Resources, the state’s largest on-call fire department, who will answer all your important questions.

 “I have been studying westside fires for several years now,” said Halofsky. “During this time, we’ve thought about differences in fire ecology between east- and westside fires, the conditions that tend to promote these westside events, how they may or may not change with climate, and how people can begin to prepare.”

 Hansville residents will likely be more affected by the smoke than the fire. Wildfires contain toxic chemicals and extremely fine particles not only from burning wood but also burning homes, cars and everything else in a fire’s path.  Inhaling that smoke can lead to worsening lung problems and cause or complicate heart problems, particularly for people over 65, according to recent research from the American Heart Association.

Of course, even healthy people may get coughs, shortness of breath, sore throats, headaches, and eye inflammation from breathing the noxious air. Without a good filtration system, indoors is as hazardous as outdoors.

All it takes is one small spark from a camp fire, yard waste fire, cigarette, firework, or downed power line to start a major blaze. Firefighters also point out that there are now more people living in wooded areas, increasing the chance of accidental fires. 

Please come to hear how and why wildfires are moving west–and much more.