Q & A: What to know about ash falling in Western Washington

Air quality may be impacted due to wild fires

SEATTLE — As thick haze hangs around the Seattle area with ash falling like snow in some areas, many have questioned health issues associated with these conditions. Here’s everything you need to know about the two different kinds of impacts: the separate risks associated with ash and smoke.

I woke up to find ash outside. Should I call 911?

No! NORCOM, the North East King County Regional Public Safety Communication Agency, said its 911 dispatchers have been inundated with calls about the ash. Bellevue fire reports that they received more than 50 calls since 2 a.m. They say please only call if you see flame and concentrated smoke. Please do not call 911 so that real emergency calls can get through.

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Where is the ash coming from?

There are currently multiple wildfires in Washington, such as the Jolly Mountain fire northwest of Cle Elum, and the Norse Peak fire Rainier. The ash and smoke are from the fires.

How long will the ash stick around?

KIRO 7 PinPoint Meteorologist Nick Allard said that conditions should gradually improve by Wednesday, or even later Tuesday afternoon.

Scroll down to keep reading the Q and A.


Where is the ash falling?

KIRO 7 first started getting reports of ash late Monday night from North Bend and Issaquah and later, in the Renton Highlands. Since then, ash has been reported in locations across Western Washington, included but not limited to Seattle, Pierce County, Covington, Everett, Kent and White Center.  The National Weather Service in Seattle said the ash fall is mainly in Pierce County and the south edge of King County. Easterly winds coming out of the mountains has brought the ash to those areas.

How is the air quality where I live?

provides data from the

. It was built by a group called

, which is an effort by city, county, tribal, and federal agencies to aggregate smoke information.

The map may load slowly due a large amount of people using it. The department of ecology tells KIRO 7 News its team is working to make load times faster.

What will happen if I breathe in the ash?

You may notice coughing, a scratchy throat, sinus issues or even stinging eyes and a runny nose.

Is it safe to go outside?

Those who are most at risk are infants, children, those over 65 and anyone with lung problems.

Will the ash damage my car's paint?

The ash shouldn't damage your paint on your car unless you rub it in, so you should make sure you rinse off the car really well before washing it with a sponge. Drive-through car washes are also a good option. Read more about ash and your car's finish here.