Wildfire Smoke Map As 'Hazardous' Air Quality Reported in U.S.

A large portion of the U.S. is currently covered by smoke caused by wildfires, with the lower 48 states badly affected by the rapidly growing blazes.

There are currently 83 large wildfires burning in the U.S., after a heatwave and drought in early July caused blazes to break out across the West Coast, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

There are currently 19,300 wildland firefighters and support officials tackling the 83 large wildfires burning across at least 13 states in the U.S. Montana and Idaho are the worst affected, with 20 active fires currently in the former and 18 in the latter.

Between 70 and 80 large wildfires have been burning at the same time in the U.S. throughout the majority of July, and a smoke and fire map provided by AirNow on Wednesday shows that a large portion of the country is suffering from hazy skies caused by the blazes.

In a tweet on Tuesday about the smoke and fire map, the National Weather Service wrote: "You've probably noticed the persistent hazy skies as of late. Turns out we're not the only ones seeing this—smoke from wildfires is covering much of the lower 48."

AirNow's live map records the air quality levels in areas all across the U.S., and the data shows that there are currently several parts of the country that are suffering from poor conditions.

The air quality index, which is used by government's across the globe to measure air quality, classifies a score between 151 to 200 as "unhealthy" and between 201 to 300 as "very unhealthy." A score above 300 is considered "hazardous."

U.S. smoke and fire map
A smoke and fire map of the U.S. provided by government agency AirNow. fire.airnow.gov

If an area is recording an air quality index score that is classified as very unhealthy, then residents are advised to "try to stay indoors," while if it is hazardous then locals are urged to "stay indoors."

The worst affected area for air quality in the U.S. is currently Winthrop, Washington, with an air quality index score of 469, putting it into the hazardous bracket. Washington has been badly affected by the wildfires and currently has multiple other areas that are recording very unhealthy air quality index levels.

Markleeville in California is also recording a high score, as the map shows that it has an air quality index level of 270, putting it into the very unhealthy bracket.

Multiple areas of California, which has been one of the worst affected states for wildfires over the last month, are also recording poor air quality.

Nearby Susanville in California and Gerlach in the neighboring state of Nevada, are also currently in the very unhealthy bracket, as their air quality index scores are 210 and 247 respectively.

California is still battling seven active large wildfires that have so far burned 176,892 acres, the second-highest amount of any state behind Oregon for acres destroyed from active blazes.

Despite the high levels of smoke across the U.S., a majority of areas are still recording air quality index scores in the "good" bracket, which includes any between zero to 50.

The largest fire in the U.S. is currently the Bootleg Fire, which has been burning in Oregon since July 6. That fire has so far destroyed 388,360 acres in the state while only being 32 percent contained, according to the federal InciWeb wildfire tracking site.

Across the U.S., more acres have burned this year compared to this point in 2019 and 2020. The country recorded 35,319 fires with 2,585,492 acres affected from January 1 to July 20, 2021, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

That compares to 29,207 fires and 1,761,531 acres for this period in 2020, and 23,669 fires and 2,385,283 acres in 2019.

Smoke from wildfires
Fire from the Bootleg Fire illuminates smoke at night near Bly, Oregon on July 16, 2021. Smoke caused by large wildfires currently burning in the U.S. is now covering a large portion of the country, as the lower 48 states are being affected by the rapidly growing blazes. Payton Bruni/AFP via Getty Images