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Summer camps are canceled as Western wildfire smoke spreads.

Smoke from the Red Apple Fire covered Wenatchee, Wash., last month. Many areas of the state have continued to experience hazardous air quality.Credit…David Ryder/Reuters

By The New York Times

Aug. 5, 2021, 5:01 a.m. ET

Summer camps in eastern Washington State had to shut down this week after a stretch of unhealthy haze. Officials in Montana issued air quality warnings for nearly the entire state. And Denver residents were said to be comparing hazy conditions to the “brown cloud” that resulted from traffic pollution in the 1990s.

Wildfire smoke has been a problem across the country again this summer, following a fire season last year during which conditions got so bad that officials started telling Colorado residents to create a purified “safe room” as a barrier against the stifling smoke and ozone.

Minnesota, whose skies have been darkened by smoke from Canada for much of the summer, saw improvement this week as wind patterns shifted. But farther west, in the northern Rockies and parts of the Pacific Northwest, air quality this week hit its lowest points of the summer.

The National Weather Service office in Spokane, Wash., issued an air quality alert for the region early this week, along with an excessive heat watch.

The combination of heat and smoke prompted closures of outdoor attractions across the region, including at Spokane’s Riverfront Park, and several summer camps were forced to send children home, according to The Spokesman-Review in Spokane.

Summer camps across the country are increasingly dealing with the impacts of climate change, including punishing heat waves and smoke from wildfires that are burning earlier and more intensely because of hot, dry conditions.

“It’s unfortunate that smoke is now the fifth season,” Angela Simpson, a parent who had to pick her child up from a camp in western Idaho, told the Spokane newspaper.