SKAGIT — The Northwest Clean Air Agency on Saturday ended a Stage 2 air quality burn ban for Island, Skagit and Whatcom counties because air quality had improved as winds swept out wildfire smoke.

However, that air quality burn ban was separate from the three counties’ fire safety burn bans on outdoor burning in rural areas, which remained in effect because of fire danger.

“We’re lifting the air quality burn ban because levels of fine particles from wildfire smoke are dropping throughout the region,” said NWCAA executive director Mark Buford. “We would like to thank everyone who did their part to protect the air and people’s health during the air quality burn ban.”

But fire safety burn bans remain in place until local fire officials determine that fire danger has passed, he noted.

The air quality level in Whatcom County, as of Tuesday, Sept. 22, was at Good (below 50) for Ferndale, Lynden-Custer, Bellingham and Columbia Valley.