Alaska Airlines suspends all flights in and out of Portland, Spokane amid wildfire smoke

Sara M Moniuszko, USA TODAY-September 15, 2020, 10:43 AM EDT

Alaska Airlines, along with its regional carrier Horizon Air, is temporarily suspending all flights to and from airports in Portland, Oregon and Spokane, Washington as the Pacific Northwest battles intense wildfires.

The Seattle-based airline announced the news in a statement Monday afternoon, adding that those flights are expected to be canceled through 3 p.m. Tuesday.

“Across the West, fires are creating thick smoke and haze, causing very poor air quality conditions in the Portland and Spokane areas,” the statement read, in part. “We made the difficult decision to stop our operation so that our employees and guests can remain safe.”

The statement continued, “Improving weather conditions in the coming days could begin to dissipate smoke in Portland and Spokane. However, other airports in the West could be impacted by drifting smoke.”

Alaska and Horizon have also canceled flights at smaller airports due to fire and smoke including Eugene, Medford and Redmond/Bend in Oregon, and Pasco and Walla Walla in Washington.

Those who have flights can change or cancel flights under the company’s Peace of Mind waiver. And those who are unsure if their flights will be affected are encouraged to check their flight status online before departure.

Authorities in Oregon say more than 20 people remain missing from the wildfires burning across the state.

Gov. Kate Brown said Monday that 10 people are confirmed dead and that the number would likely rise as more confirmations come in from local law enforcement and medical authorities.

Andrew Phelps, director of Oregon’s office of Emergency Management, said at a news conference that 22 people are still listed as missing. He said work is continuing to locate people and update lists.

Not all people listed as missing are later found dead. Over the weekend the Jackson County Sheriff’s office in southern Oregon said the number of people accounted for from a blaze there was down to one after about 50 people were initially unaccounted for.

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