With most of the states air ranking in the orange, red or dreaded purple category, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality issued alerts Friday that banned outdoor burning in every county.
Some individual areas have seen worse conditions this year, but this is the first time so much of the state was subjected to breathing air that is considered unhealthy, said Mary Anderson, the states smoke-management program coordinator.
I dont ever remember it being quite this bad, Anderson said.
Air in the Treasure Valley was in the orange category most of Friday, as it was in Twin Falls, Pocatello and Idaho Falls.
Other areas had it worse. Air in and around Lewiston, Salmon and Grangeville was ranked in the red category.
Orange air quality is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. Older adults, seniors and people who suffer from lung diseases are encouraged to avoid strenuous outdoor activity.
Red or purple air quality means everybody should follow that advice.
Central Washington isnt the only place to blame for Idahos air plight.
Certainly the 42,000-acre Wenatchee Complex has contributed to the accumulation of smoke here, but the states own Halstead, Wesley, Karney and Sheep fires have done their share, too, Anderson said.
Our neighbors havent been spared either. Western Montana, western Wyoming and two-thirds of Washington and Oregon are sharing in the coughing.
Its been just pretty horrible, said Erick Neher, administrator of DEQs Idaho Falls region. Eastern Idaho was under an orange air-quality blanket much of the week.
The states burn bans are to remain in force through the weekend.
Unfortunately, theres no big improvement in sight. Any relief that changing weather provides Saturday or Sunday probably wont be very noticeable, Anderson said.
Sven Berg: 377-6275