Poor air quality in the Mid-Columbia led to some students being kept inside for recess and canceling some sports events, and the same could happen today.
The Richland and Walla Walla school districts kept their students indoors Thursday with the air rated as being unsafe for some individuals.
Walla Walla also canceled a home football game and home cross country meet, affecting Tri-City schools that were expected to send runners to the meet.
"The safety of our students is our paramount duty," Walla Walla Superintendent Mick Miller stated in a release.
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The Benton Franklin Health District advised school officials to suspend outdoor recess and other activities because of the air quality.
Pasco and Kennewick school officials said they were monitoring air conditions and advising staff to act accordingly regarding outdoor student activities. Officials said they'd evaluate conditions today to determine if any sporting activities would be canceled or moved.
Thousands of firefighters are battling dozens of wildfires sparked by lightning earlier this month on the east slopes of the Cascades. Many of the blazes are small and in remote areas, but all together the fires have covered more than 108 square miles.
Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes in the paths of the fires. The Table Mountain Complex of wildfires in Chelan and Kittitas counties tripled in size to more than 47 square miles Wednesday, aided by warm temperatures, winds, low humidity and low moisture in the vegetation.
In the Tri-Cities and Walla Walla Valley, the air quality was listed as unsafe for sensitive groups, which includes people with lung conditions, children and people older than 65.
The air quality was worse Thursday north of the Mid-Columbia, with the air quality in Wenatchee listed as "hazardous."
The biggest health threat from the smoke comes from its fine particles that can cause burning eyes, runny nose, bronchitis and other illnesses. Smoky air also can aggravate heart and lung disease.
Forecasters have said they don't expect the smoke to clear any time soon, as current weather patterns aren't expected to bring wind to sweep it out.
Local health officials are not recommending schools cancel sporting events for middle school and high school students.
School officials haven't said they expect the smoke to affect sporting events or student outdoor activities today.
But it is a possibility. Central Washington University is moving its Saturday football game against Azusa Pacific from Ellensburg to Bothell.
w Reporter Annette Cary and The Associated Press contributed to this report.