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Wildfire Smoke Closes Schools; Tree Faller Dies

A tree faller assigned to a wildfire burning north of Wenatchee has died. The U.S. Forest Service says the man became ill Monday afternoon from an unspecified cause. He was transported to a hospital where he later died.

Heavy smoke from multiple wildfires continues to fill valleys on the east slopes of the Cascades. Pollution monitors again rated the air "hazardous" to breathe in Wenatchee and Ellensburg Tuesday.

Wildfire Smoke Closes Schools; Tree Faller Dies

In nearby Cashmere, Washington, schools superintendent Glenn Johnson has decided to cancel all classes for the rest of the week because of the air is unhealthy inside too.

"If you're to walk in the building, you can see a haze in the air and you can smell a strong odor of smoke. You can see smoke. At times it's worse than others."

Firefighters are making progress on some of the biggest wildfires burning in central Washington. That allowed Chelan County to ease evacuation orders in place since last week at the western edge of Wenatchee and north of Entiat.

Separately Tuesday, Washington Governor Chris Gregoire met with rural homeowners who live near a growing wildfire in Kittitas County. She urged them to heed evacuation notices for their own safety.

On the Web:

Washington wildfire updates:

http://www.inciweb.org/state/49

Heavy smoke from multiple wildfires continues to fill valleys on the east slopes of the Cascades. Photo by by Vladimir Steblina/ USDA Forest Service
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Heavy smoke from multiple wildfires continues to fill valleys on the east slopes of the Cascades. Photo by by Vladimir Steblina/ USDA Forest Service

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

Tom Banse covers national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reports from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events are unfolding. Tom's stories can be found online and heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.
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