Air quality index – Aug. 26, 2021

Smoke from the Greenwood wildfire in northeast Minnesota, and fires in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area appears to be reducing air quality across Wisconsin’s northwoods.

Air quality index maps from the National Weather Service showed areas of decreased air quality over the fires, resulting in Red (unhealthy), Purple (very unhealthy) and Maroon (hazardous) levels. The Greenwood Fire, about 60 miles northeast of Duluth, has burned more than 60 acres since Aug. 15. Additional smaller fires burned in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area on the U.S. side and Canadian side (Quetico Provincial Park), adding to the smoke.

By midmorning Thursday, Aug. 26, Yellow (moderate) air quality levels extended from the fires down to northwest Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources issued a “Red” air quality advisory for Barron, Rusk, Chippewa, Dunn, Ashland, Bayfield, Brown, Buffalo, Burnett, Clark, Door, Douglas, Eau Claire, Florcence, Iron, Jackson, Kewaunee, Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, MArinette, Menominee, Oconto, Oneida, Outagamie, Pepin, Pierce, Polk, Portage, Price, Sawyer, Shawano, St. Croix, Taylor, Trempealeau, Vilas, Washburn, Waupaca and Wood counties.

The “Red” advisory said air quality was expected to reach unhealthy levels.

“Sensitive groups, including children, elderly people, individuals with respiratory and cardiac problems and anyone engaged in strenuous outdoor activities for a prolonged period of time, should avoid extended outdoor exposure,” the DNR said.