Working in the Thick of It, Forest Service Research Team Tracks Wildfire Smoke

As winds this week blew smoke from hundreds of wildfires burning in British Columbia into the Pacific Northwest, many cities in Washington and Oregon are seeing one of the most visible byproducts of fire—smoke. Residents may be smelling and feeling it, too; air quality across some locations has deteriorated so much that the air is currently designated “unhealthy” to breathe in these places.

“Usually, we think of smoke being a problem for rural areas near wildlands in the Northwest,” said Susan O’Neill, a research air quality engineer with the US Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station. “But we have an unusual situation at the moment that is causing widespread smoke impacts from Canada south through western Washington and Oregon.”