Families plan to escape smoke as more is expected to hover over Eastern Washington

SPOKANE, Wash. — If you are going to be outside this weekend, you may want to have a backup plan. Smoke across Eastern Washington is expected to get worse as early as Friday. One Washington town — that is usually flooded with tourists right now — had the worst air quality in the country on Thursday.

Winthrop reached hazardous levels. Parts of Spokane County got up to “unhealthy for sensitive groups.” The wind will be pushing in more smoke from Okanogan County. Families took advantage of the nice weather while it lasted.

“This morning it just seemed like the weather was just wonderful,” said Nicole Bosman. “We decided to come out to the park and probably around 11 to 12ish we noticed that the smoke — we started to smell smoke.”

Bosman is asthmatic, so she cannot handle too much smoke.

“My eyes begin to hurt and my lungs start feeling more tight and so I have to use my rescue inhaler sometimes,” she said.

Her family has lived in Spokane on and off for 16 years. Bosman said she has recently noticed the smoke getting worse earlier in the year.

“We know this weekend it’s going to start getting bad so we wanted to get out before it got bad,” she said.

Summer is the perfect time to get out and visit places like Winthrop. Normally, the small town is full of tourists.

“It’s just black. You can’t see more than maybe, I don’t know, a quarter mile or less,” said Benn Collier, general manager at East 20 Pizza in Winthrop. “Every year there’s fires and every year we go through this, but this is a bit extreme with the smoke this year.”

Collier said it is empty. The wildfires, smoke and closures of the Cascades Highway is taking a toll on them.

“One minute you get some clean air, some blue skies. The next minute you’re in the soup of it,” he explained.

The smoke is to the point where East 20 Pizza has had to close early a few days this week. Collier even started wearing a mask inside.

“It’s tough because I want to make sure everybody’s happy, healthy and safe,” he said.

The air quality is expected to get worse on Friday and stay consistent through the weekend. Families like the Bosmans are rethinking their plans just to stay out of the smoke.

“Maybe we’ll go see a movie,” Bosman said. “Maybe we’ll try to see if there’s somewhere we can head out of town that isn’t as smoky.”

RELATED: Preparing for poor air quality ahead of wildfire season

RELATED: Wildfires near Winthrop burn collective 63 square miles

RELATED: Moderate temps with widespread haze for Thursday & Friday!