By Bruce A. Smith
The fifth inundation of smoke since early August occurred in Eatonville today, September 11, courtesy of Joint Base Lewis McChord. Through some kind of atmospheric inversion, JBLM’s grit and gases smothered the ground-level air at mid-day while the skies above were bright blue, punctuated with fair-weather clouds.
This one-day event gives us twenty days of unhealthy air in the past forty.
JBLM confirmed that they were conducting another controlled burn – this time along State Route 507 near the East Gate.
“They are performing a prescribed burn to control the underbrush and enhance animal habitat,” Dispatch at JBLM announced. Officials claimed that the burn would last for only 2-3 hours, although they admitted the fire could smolder for hours.
Fortunately, skies cleared over Eatonville by late afternoon
In addition, residual smoke from the Norse Peak Fire on the eastern outskirts of Mount Rainier National Park may have also contributed, the South Pierce Fire and Rescue Department told the Mountain News.
Also, the widely respected forest fire website, WAsmoke.blogspot, reported this morning that smoke from regional fires was settling in the valleys of the mid-Cascades due to easterly winds. Reflecting these two sources of smoke, Washington Air Quality Advisory (WAQA) readings in Puyallup were 75 at 11 am, much higher than the very healthy “9-22” levels recorded on Sunday evening.
Nevertheless, the fresh air produced by the rains and westerly winds over the weekend were celebrated at WAsmoke, which proclaimed:
“September 10, 2017 was the cleanest air we’ve had all month,” and added:
“Welcome relief from smoke over the weekend! Air quality monitors showed the cleanest air we’ve had all month. Not squeaky clean, but a far cry from the gunk we’ve been inhaling- with most of the State’s fine particle monitors reporting ‘Good Air.’”
Until JBLM decided to light ‘er up again.