News Release

For release: Aug. 27, 2012

Contacts:
Larry Calkins, Air Quality Program, Pendleton, 541-278-4612
Brian Mannion, Communications and Outreach Bend 541-633-2008
William Knight, Air Quality, Communications and Outreach, 503-229-5680

Wildfires Cause Unhealthy Air Quality in Central and Southern Oregon

Smoke from wildfires in Oregon and California sent smoke into communities including Bend, Klamath Falls and Lakeview.

Fires in central and southern Oregon and northern California sent smoke into communities during the past several days. Klamath Falls saw unhealthy air quality on Sunday and very unhealthy air quality on Monday, while air quality in Bend was unhealthy Sunday morning and unhealthy for sensitive groups at other times Sunday and Monday.

 

DEQ urges people living in areas affected by smoke to be aware local air quality at all times and to take precautions to reduce exposure to wildfire smoke.

 

Below is a brief summary of conditions in communities hit by smoke in central and southern Oregon.

 

Klamath Falls

The Fort Complex fire in the Klamath National Forest and the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest along the California-Oregon border sent smoke into Klamath Falls over the weekend and Monday. Hourly smoke concentrations were unhealthy for sensitive groups on Saturday, reaching levels unhealthy for everyone at times Sunday and very unhealthy levels around midday Monday. The National Weather Service expects conditions to improve by midweek with the arrival of cooler weather and favorable winds.

 

Klamath

 

For the most up to date health information regarding the Klamath Falls, call Molly Brophy Jespersen at the Klamath County Health Department: 541-882-8846.

 

Lakeview

The Fort Complex fire sent smoke into Lakeview over the weekend and Monday. Hourly smoke concentrations were unhealthy for several hours Saturday, and reached moderate on Monday morning. The National Weather Service expects conditions to improve by midweek with the arrival of cooler weather and favorable winds.

 

Lakeview

 

Bend

Shifting winds sent smoke from several fires into Bend over the weekend and on Monday. On Sunday morning, winds carried smoke into Bend from the Waterfalls 2 fire near Warm Springs, causing hourly smoke concentrations to spike to unhealthy levels around 9 a.m. Sunday. Sunday afternoon, winds shifted, bring smoke from fires in Southern Oregon and Northern California including Barry Point fire. Hourly levels were unhealthy for sensitive groups Monday morning. The National Weather Service expects conditions to improve by midweek with the arrival of cooler weather and favorable winds.

 

Bend

 

Burns, Sisters and Madras

DEQ air quality monitors in Burns, Sisters and Madras detected moderate smoke levels over the weekend and Monday.

Rogue Valley
Conditions were relatively clear over the weekend. However, areas of smoke are expected this afternoon and may continue into Wednesday.

 

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 regarding 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.

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