Poor air quality is expected to stick around today and most if not all of Friday but improve significantly by the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

“They might notice a little bit of lifting and thinning on Friday,” said Ron Miller at the agency’s office in Spokane. “But most likely people are probably going to wake up Saturday morning and notice a difference.”

A low-pressure system off the West Coast is slowly moving inland. It is expected to bring air-clearing wind and some rain, but not nearly enough to stop the dozens of large wildfires burning in the Pacific Northwest.

“It’s not widespread rain, but showery enough that even in Lewiston and the L-C Valley you could see up to five-hundredths or a tenth of an inch,” he said. “That will also help clean up the air as well.”

However, Miller said the poor air quality isn’t likely to completely disappear.

“I won’t say there won’t be any smoke in the air, but it will be noticeably better.”

Officials on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest have assigned firefighters from a local team to the Type 2 team battling the Shissler Fire near Red River Hot Springs. That blaze has been active this week and is now estimated to have covered 11,500 acres. However, the estimate was made without the aid of infrared imaging because of poor air quality and competition for such specialized aircraft, according to a Forest Service news release. The fire is 10 percent contained.

The team managing the Sunnyside Complex of fires will serve its last shift in that capacity today and then turn management of the Clover and Mile Marker 49 fires to the Idaho Department of Lands and the Clearwater-Potlatch Timber Protective Association.

“We have both of these fires pretty well buttoned up,” said fire information officer Stefani Spencer.

The Clover Fire west of Orofino is 95 percent contained. It has burned 1,550 acres, a decrease from earlier estimates because of better mapping. The MM49 east of Orofino Fire has burned 2,801 acres and is 85 percent contained.

U.S. Highway 12 is expected to return to two-way traffic through the fire area, and the pilot car will no longer be needed today.

“There is still potential for rock and debris loosened by the fire to roll down on the road,” Spencer said. “If people could just exercise a lot of caution and be very aware and take it slow through the fire area, that would be great.”

Barker may be contacted at ebarker@lmtribune.com or at (208) 848-2273. Follow him on Twitter @ezebarker.

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