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Smoke from Grant County wildfire impacts Spokane area air quality

Hazy skies are covering the Inland Northwest as winds push wildfire smoke into the region.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Air quality remains a concern in the Inland Northwest as a wildfire continues to burn more than 5,000 acres in central Washington. 

Authorities say the Highway 243 Fire sparked near Royal City at about 9 p.m. on Monday. It has since prompted Level 1, 2 and 3 evacuations in the surrounding area.  

The fire is threatening homes, crops and infrastructure, authorities said.  

There are also 28 wildfires still burning in Alberta, Canada. Fire crews say dry conditions and strong winds are fueling the fires, which have burned more than 750,000 acres. 

Tens of thousands of people have evacuated the area. 

As of Wednesday morning, the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency listed Spokane's air quality at the low end of unhealthy for sensitive groups range, with an air quality index near 70.

This means the air quality is OK but may cause some moderate health concerns for a small number of people, including those are sensitive to air pollution.

In Coeur d'Alene, the air quality is in the moderate range on Wednesday morning.

In Sandpoint, the air quality at the high end of the moderate range. The city was listed among the top five cities in the nation with the worst air quality but has since dropped off the list as of 8:30 a.m. 

KREM 2 Morning Weather Anchor Evan Noorani says smoke from the Highway 243 Fire has drifted into North Idaho. 

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Unhealthy for sensitive groups means people with heart and lung disease, older adults and children are at a greater risk from exposure.

Spokane's air quality was the worst in the country as of 8 p.m. on Tuesday, when it was sitting in unhealthy range. 

"It's a dubious honor and certainly not one most of us would choose," the National Weather Service wrote on Twitter. 

On Tuesday, the National Weather Service said winds carried smoke across central and eastern Washington, with some haze visible in Spokane on Tuesday.

On Tuesday morning, smoke from the fire was visible via satellite. 

The GOES 16 Satellite shows how smoke moved east, just south of I-90 and north of Mattawa. 

Credit: KREM
Credit: KREM

Wind is expected to continue to fuel the Highway 243 Fire with gusts in the teens and 20 mph range on Wednesday. 

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Along with that, dry conditions and above average temperatures will likely impact fire conditions. 

RELATED: 5,000-acre Highway 243 Fire in Grant Co. prompts mandatory evacuation

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