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States That Border West Coast Wildfires Close Schools Because Of Smoke


Thousands of miles from the West Coast, people are seeing signs of the wildfires burning in California, Oregon and Washington. The huge plumes of smoke are working their way across the country. Hazy skies have spanned as far as Upstate New York, and, for states closer to the burns, it's having a toll on everyday life. In Idaho and Montana, it is so bad some schools have closed and canceled outdoor sports. Boise State Public Radio's Tess Goodwin reports.

TESS GOODWIN, BYLINE: It's about a nine-hour drive from Boise to the West Coast, but smoke from fires there was already becoming a problem here late last month. Jennifer Zissou grows tulips and dahlias outside the city. She tried to keep harvesting through the smoggy air.

JENNIFER ZISSOU: I got serious coughing attacks constantly that were keeping me up at night. And between that and having a toddler, and I'm also seven months pregnant, I just could not go outside, do any of the work I'm supposed to do.

GOODWIN: But since Saturday, the smoke has been significantly worse. Monday classes were even canceled in the Moscow School District and at the University of Idaho where the air reached hazardous conditions. Bill Wojcik is a National Weather Service meteorologist in Boise.

BILL WOJCIK: ...Basically went from a more favorable flow where we weren't getting the smoke to a westerly flow, which brought all that smoke in from Oregon.

GOODWIN: Wojcik says high-level smoke plumes from California are also blowing towards Idaho. What's worse, he says, that the smoke could stick around for most of the week. Flower grower Jennifer Zissou needs the smoke to clear out as she can't be in the field and only has about a month left to pick her flowers.

ZISSOU: As soon as we get a frost, it's all over. So we have a very small window where we can make money.

GOODWIN: A low pressure system expected tomorrow could bring some rain to the Cascades and hopefully clearer skies. Meanwhile, Idaho's wildfire potential remains above average, and the state is reporting about 13 large wildfires burning out of control here now generating their own smoke.

For NPR News, I'm Tess Goodwin in Boise. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tess Goodwin
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