For release: Aug. 15, 2012
Wildfires Send Smoke into Klamath, Lake and Malheur Counties
Smoke from area fires causes increased air pollution in Lakeview and Klamath Falls, haze in Vale and Ontario; DEQ offers tips on dealing with smoke
With the National Weather Service predicting smoky conditions and hot weather, air quality could worsen in the next few days in Klamath Falls and Lakeview. Thunderstorms and possible lightning strikes could also develop in the area, increasing the chance of fires throughout south-central and southeast Oregon. DEQ urges people living in these areas to be aware of local air quality and to take precautions to reduce exposure to wildfire smoke.
Fires burning along Oregon’s southern border sent smoke into Klamath Falls and Lakeview, resulting in decreased air quality earlier this week. The communities of Ontario and Vale have been dealing with hazy skies and diminished air quality as well.
Update on local conditions:
Smoke from the Barry Point fire early this past week led to pollution levels in Lakeview that were unhealthy for sensitive groups including children, the elderly and those with asthma or other respiratory conditions. The Oregon Interagency Incident Management Team reports that weather conditions are likely to send smoke back into the community in the coming days, which could lead to unhealthy air quality.
Smoke from several fires burning in southern Oregon and northern California caused moderate air pollution in Klamath Falls earlier in the week. The Fort Complex near Happy Camp, Calif., and the Barry Point fire near Lakeview are the likely contributors to smoke in the Klamath Basin, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry. Weather conditions are expected to keep smoke levels elevated in the next few days.
Vale and Ontario
Weather conditions in the coming days will keep smoke levels elevated in these communities. Smoke from fires in the Ten Mile Complex and the Holloway fires led to visibly hazy conditions for the past several days in Vale and Ontario.
Tips for avoiding problems from smoke
Under certain weather conditions smoke from fires can drift into communities and quickly cause unhealthy air quality. Should smoke events occur, DEQ and health officials urge local residents to take the following precautions to avoid breathing problems or other symptoms from smoke:
· Be aware of smoke concentrations in your area and avoid the places with highest concentrations.
· 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 .
· Avoid strenuous outdoor activity in smoky conditions.
· People suffering from asthma or other respiratory problems should follow their breathing management plans or contact their healthcare providers.
Remember, local smoke levels can rise and fall rapidly, depending on weather factors including wind direction. People can conduct a visual assessment of smoke levels to quickly get a sense of air quality levels and take precautions. If people have additional concerns, they should contact the nearest regional or local public health agency for the latest in health conditions from smoke.
For more information about local conditions:
· Visit DEQ’s wildfire information page for more information about active fires and air quality, along with tools to help people assess smoke levels in their area.
· 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.