High winds and wildfires reduce nation’s largest apple crop

SPOKANE — Washington’s apple crop will be up to 10 percent smaller than expected because wildfires and extreme windstorms have battered orchards in recent weeks, the Washington Apple Commission said Wednesday.

Washington supplies 65 percent of the nation’s fresh apple crop each year, and the commission in August estimated the 2020 crop would total 134 million 40-pound boxes.

But over Labor Day weekend, a strong windstorm moving through central Washington knocked many apples off trees, and damaged some trellis systems, the commission said.

The wind also fueled wildfires that produced intense smoke, preventing employees from safely working in orchards, the commission said.

Finally, more accurate reporting of how many apples were on trees found a lighter crop volume than expected.

Washington farms given masks for workers to combat smoke

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. — The Skagit County Department of Emergency Management in northwest Washington has provided about 2,000 N95 masks to protect agricultural workers amid the widespread wildfires, officials said.

Thick smoke has made the air quality unhealthy and prompted orders for citizens to stay home as much as possible.

The smoke is expected to linger until at least today, the Skagit Valley Herald reported, but area farmers cannot halt all of their outdoor work.

Farmers and farm workers were already required to wear face coverings because of the coronavirus, but cloth masks do little to protect from wildfire pollutants, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Seattle police arrest 11 during anti-police rally

SEATTLE — Seattle police arrested 11 people during an anti-police rally Tuesday after members of the group started damaging businesses.

KOMO-TV reports police said a group of 20-30 people gathered near Denny Park for the anti-police rally. The group moved north along Fifth Avenue North when some of the protesters started damaging windows and tagging businesses with spray paint, police said. Officers tried to arrest the people responsible for property damage, but others in the group tried to intervene and were taken into custody.

Idaho fires have destroyed 90 structures, including 18 homes

BOISE — So far this year, 90 structures, including 18 homes, in Idaho have been destroyed by wildfire.

According to data from the U.S. Forest Service and Idaho Department of Lands, the structures were all lost since the beginning of September. Idaho’s wildfire season had been largely uneventful until recently, when dry weather, human activity and lightning kicked the season into high gear.

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