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Originally published Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 8:14 PM

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Air-pollution levels from fires still high in Central Washington

Although the recent wildfires are mostly in mop-up or rehabilitation mode, the air quality in North Central Washington has not yet returned to the healthy range.

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WENATCHEE — While fires have cooled thanks to suppression efforts and weather, their effects remain fiercely visible one month after their outbreak.

Air pollution continues to hit unhealthy levels or worse throughout North Central Washington, mainly in Wenatchee and Cashmere, which was hardest-hit of all.

Fine-particle counts in Cashmere peaked above 90 micrograms per cubic meter of air Friday through Monday — well above the 80.5 level at which health officials declare the air "very unhealthy." But levels there have not touched the dreaded "hazardous" reading, 135.4 micrograms or above, since Oct. 1, when they maxed out near 270.

At 6 a.m. Tuesday, Cashmere showed an unhealthy reading of 52 micrograms, after peaking at 71 micrograms two hours earlier.

Wenatchee registered an unhealthy 65.6 about 5 a.m. Tuesday, after averaging 86.9 on Monday — a reading in the very unhealthy range.

State forecasters believe a wet spell could settle some airborne smoke this coming weekend, although state Department of Ecology atmospheric scientist Ranil Dhammapala said computer models don't predict enough precipitation to quench the region's fires.

Most of the fires in the Wenatchee Complex are in mop-up or rehabilitation mode. But fire officials remind residents that campfire restrictions remain in effect.

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