Most Seattleites have a variety of outdoor activities filling their schedule in the hottest months of the year. These summer hiking and swimming endeavors were interrupted in early August by a number of wildfires. The smoke drifted into the Seattle area from many surrounding regions: British Columbia, Oregon and eastern Washington. These fires covered tens of thousands of acres of land, but the effects of the smoke were felt for many miles. The haze was pushed into nearby cities, including Seattle, by interior winds across the Pacific Northwest out towards the ocean.
Beyond inconveniencing those with asthma and delaying numerous flights, a smokey haze and increased humidity were felt by all. In directly adjacent parts of the country, such as Cle Elum, and Eagle Creek, many residents had to evacuate due to the hazardous conditions. In early September, the recurring fires in the region prompted Governor Jay Inslee to declare a state of emergency in early September. This allowed federal resources and assets, like the National Guard, to be utilized to combat the fires.
The poor air quality came just as Roosevelt students returned, both to the building and onto the field for fall sports practices. As the frenzy of changing schedules, finding classes, and reconnecting with friends began, these sports practices came to a halt. Due to the “moderately hazardous” air quality posing a threat on student safety, practices were compromised for the first few days of school. Teams with large student participation, such as cross country, had little time to reorganize. Team captain and senior Harriet Wright explained that the girls “couldn’t run because it’s dangerous … a bunch of our runners have asthma … sport induced asthma is a pretty serious concern”. The health risks to athletes, especially those affected by asthma, were serious while the smoke remained prevalent in Seattle skies.
Thankfully, as the weather cools and the air is less dry, the fires have subsided. Now, rather than cancelled sports practices, Roosevelt students are heading to football games at Memorial Stadium, cheering on cross country meets at Lower Woodland, and reminiscing about the months of summer.
Graphic By: Petra Lavin