Schools remain wary of smoke

A smoky haze sits over Bryden Canyon Golf Course as Elaine Casteel, of Lewiston, tees off on the 18th hole Tuesday morning in Lewiston. The haze blanketing the area is expected to stick around for at least a few more days.

With smoke continuing to keep air quality at unhealthy to very unhealthy levels, the University of Idaho and Washington State University are taking actions to limit exposure to students and staff.

UI officials announced Monday that in-person classes and other on-campus activities would be suspended through today. Washington State is not holding in-person instruction this semester, but announced for the third day in a row Tuesday that it has canceled all on-campus activities and events today.

Online instruction and other activities continue at both schools.

Officials at Lewis-Clark State College are giving students and staff suffering from the poor air quality the option of working or studying from home.

A high-pressure weather pattern and inversion that are pushing wildfire smoke from the West Coast inland are expected to persist until at least Friday.

Fires on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest have burned actively the past few days and led to some new road and trail closures. The 1,670-acre Beaver Fire near Powell led to the closure of the Colt Killed Creek Trail No. 50, the Walton Lakes Trail No. 75, and the Savage Pass Road No. 360 from its junction with Road 111 to the junction with Road 358. Portions of roads 368 and 369 are also closed.

The nearby Marion Fire has burned 536 acres. Both fires are 0 percent contained.

The Shissler Fire near Red River Hot Springs has grown to 6,000 acres and is 21 percent contained. Green Mountain Road No. 285 off of the Magruder Corridor has been closed and firefighters are working to protect the Green Mountain Lookout. The Magruder Corridor is open.

Firefighters working to suppress the three-fire Sunnyside Complex continued to make progress Tuesday, according to fire information officer Jennifer Costich. She said fire activity has been muted for the last several days.

“As much as I hate all the smoke coming from California and Oregon, I think it has helped moderate our fire behavior,” she said. “It kind of insulates us a lit bit from the heat and the loss of humidity.”

The 2,867-acre MM49 Fire east of Orofino is 75 percent contained. Firefighters are mopping and have started to work putting post-fire erosion controls on dozer lines and hand lines. They have started pulling some hose from secure areas of the fire.

The Clover Fire is 95 percent contained and is expected to go into patrol status today. The Iron Gate Fire near Clarkia has burned 115 acres and is 92 percent contained. The fire is expected to be turned back over to the Clearwater-Potlatch Timber Protective Association today.

The Lewiston City Library announced Tuesday that its Outdoor Storytime scheduled for today and Thursday have been canceled. The library hopes to hold storytime next week, weather permitting.

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

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