For release: Aug. 3, 2010
Wildfire Smoke Impacts Central Oregon
Smoke from fires near Sisters prompting air quality concern
Concern about smoke in areas of Central Oregon including Deschutes County and surrounding areas, is prompting the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to advise residents of protective measures they may take to mitigate breathing problems or other symptoms from smoke.
Smoke concentrations from active fires six miles south of Sisters caused a DEQ monitoring station in the City of Bend to reach the “moderate” category Tuesday morning on the DEQ’s Wildfire Air Quality Rating Scale. Levels at other Central Oregon monitoring sites are still in the “good” range but that may change this afternoon as winds from the west push more smoke from the 1,850 acre fire (as of 11 a.m. this morning) into Bend and surrounding areas.
Visit the Wildfire Air Quality Rating Scale: www.deq.state.or.us/aqi/wildfire/index.htm
Area residents can check DEQ’s Air Quality Index through the weekend for real-time air quality and health index readings.
Visit DEQ’s Air Quality Index: www.deq.state.or.us/aqi/index.aspx .
DEQ reminds area residents – especially those individuals who may be sensitive to smoke – that there are precautions they can take to mitigate breathing problems or other symptoms from smoke. Additionally, there are helpful media and Web-related tools available (see below) that may help individuals determine when to take protective measures. People can also help by not contributing to the smoke by avoiding burning in their woodstoves, fireplaces or outdoors.
Smoke is made up of tiny particles (particulate matter) that can be harmful to breathe, especially for children, older adults and those with asthma and other lung or heart conditions. This particulate matter also reduces visibility, causing the haze that’s been noticeable in the area. Symptoms that people may experience from smoke include varying degrees of repeated coughing, shortness of breath, scratchy throat, wheezing, chest tightness, heart palpitations, nausea, unusual fatigue, or lightheadedness.
Conditions can improve or worsen rapidly, depending on location. Should smoke events occur, environmental and health officials urge local residents to take the following precautions to reduce or eliminate breathing problems or other symptoms from smoke:
· Avoid smoke either by leaving the area or protecting yourself by staying indoors, closing all windows and doors and using a filter in your heating/cooling system that removes very fine particulate matter (less than PM2.5)
· Avoid strenuous outdoor activity
· Asthma sufferers or those who suffer from other respiratory problems should follow their asthma or breathing management plan or contact your health provider
· Be aware of smoke concentrations in your area and avoid those areas with highest concentrations
For more information area media and residents are also encouraged to:
· Contact the nearest regional or local public health agency for the latest in health conditions from smoke. Wildfire smoke forecasts are issued daily by the Oregon Department of Forestry when significant wildfires are occurring. Visit: www.oregon.gov/ODF/FIRE/fire.shtml .
· Visit the National Weather Service Forecast Office seven day hazardous weather outlook (includes smoke outlook) at: www.wrh.noaa.gov/pdt/currentHazards/graphicalHazards.php?wfo=pdt&tab=1&lang=eng .
· Contact the NWS in Pendleton at 541-276-7832 for 24 hour weather information throughout the region, and an opportunity to speak with a forecaster, or visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/pendleton .
· A comprehensive, area-wide, recorded NWS weather report is available at (541) 276-0103. Contact the National Weather Service at Boise at (208) 334-9860 or visit on the web at: www.weather.gov/ .
· Tune to local radio and TV stations and the Weather Channel in affected areas that may include the very latest fire information in news programming and weather reports. Obtain a dedicated NOAA Weather Radio receiver which will alert you 24 hours a day to hazards in your area.
· View DEQ’s Wildfire Air Quality Rating Scale (WAQR) at: www.deq.state.or.us/aqi/wildfire/index.htm .
· Determine action levels and protective measures at: www.deq.state.or.us/er/docs/localprojects/WildfiresandAQFS070606.pdf .
· Visit www.deq.state.or.us/aq/burning/wildfires/visibility.htm on how to use visibility to measure health effects.
· Determine what areas are being impacted by visiting the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center’s Large Fire Information Summary at: www.nwccweb.us/information/fire_info.asp . View the Interactive fire weather planning forecast at: www.wrh.noaa.gov/pdt/forecast/fireWeather.php?wfo=pdt .
Other useful web links:
· Deschutes County Wildfire Information: www.deschutes.org/go/living-here
· USFS & USEPA smoke forecast data: www.getbluesky.org
· National Interagency Fire Center: www.nifc.gov
· American Lung Association: www.lungoregon.org
· Oregon Department of Human Services/Health Division, Asthma Group: www.ohd.hr.state.or.us/asthma
· EPA: How Smoke from Fires Can Affect Your Health: www.epa.gov/airnow/smoke2/smokecover.html