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Fire crews battle smoky conditions, flames in Washington

Published:Thursday | August 27, 2015 | 11:11 AM

SPOKANE, Washington (AP):

Smoke from big wildfires burning east of the Cascade Range hurt air quality on Wednesday and hampered efforts by crews battling the flames in Washington state.

Smoky conditions grounded helicopters and airplanes that had been fighting the fires, and air quality was rated as unhealthy for some people in Spokane County, which has nearly 500,000 residents.

Crews battling a 262-square mile blaze near the town of Republic were also battling smoke as well as flames, fire spokesman Donnie Davis said.

"Everybody up here is rubbing their eyes," Davis said. "It's brutal."