Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Logo for The Western Front

BRIEF: Northwest fires rage on, Bellingham air quality worsens

Conditions expected to ease up by Thursday

Two photos show a side-by-side comparison of Bellingham Bay in Bellingham, Wash., before and after smoke from Washington fires drifted into Whatcom County. The photo on the left was taken during a bright spring day on June 12, 2022; the photo on the right, taken Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022, shows the extent of smoke pollution. // Photos by Milo Openshaw

Air quality in Bellingham has reached an “unhealthy” level due to ongoing wildfires in the northwest region. 

The Air Quality Index (AQI), which measures hazardous particulates in the air, reached 153 on Tuesday afternoon in Bellingham. Any AQI over 150 is designated to be unhealthy for everyone, especially people with lung, heart and respiratory diseases, people younger than 18 and over the age of 65 and outdoor workers. Elsewhere in Whatcom County, the numbers are even more unsafe  — in Maple Falls, the AQI has reached a “very unhealthy” level of 203. 

Currently, there are seven wildfires burning in the northwest region of Washington. The Suiattle River fire and Bolt Creek fire, which are both burning in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, have a projected containment date of Oct. 31. Smoke in the air above Bellingham is predicted to decrease with the arrival of a storm system on Thursday. 

According to the Washington State Department of Health, once the AQI reaches above 150, people should limit their time spent outside, avoid exercise or other physical activity and follow tips for cleaner indoor air, which can be found here

Western Washington University, which released a weather advisory Tuesday afternoon, has advised students and faculty to wear N95 masks while outside and remain indoors when possible. 

For more information on protecting your health while the air is smoky, visit the Washington Department of Health’s Smoke from Fires page

Liz McLane

Liz McLane is a fourth-year student studying journalism with a minor in Salish Sea studies. She enjoys the color green and good naps. You can find her on Instagram here, Twitter here and over email at

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2023 The Western Front