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Smoke From Distant Fires Makes Itself Felt In Southern Oregon

Smoke from fires in the Bay Area, Central Valley and Sierra Nevada of California has drifted north and is causing air quality to decline in the Klamath Basin and the Rogue Valley.
Liam Moriarty screenshot
PNW Smoke Map
Smoke from fires in the Bay Area, Central Valley and Sierra Nevada of California has drifted north and is causing air quality to decline in the Klamath Basin and the Rogue Valley.

After days of wildfire in California, the smoke is wafting into the Rogue Valley and Klamath Basin.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality extended an air quality advisory for parts of Southern, Central and Eastern Oregon due to smoke from wildfires in Oregon and Northern California.

DEQ expects the air quality advisory to last until at least Wednesday night. DEQ and partner agencies will continue to monitor smoke in these areas.

The following areas are affected:

  • Klamath County
  • Lake County
  • Jackson County (intermittent smoke levels)
  • Deschutes County
  • Jefferson County
  • Warm Springs Reservation
  • Malheur County
  • Harney County
  • Baker County (intermittent smoke levels)

In Klamath County, health officials issued an alert Monday morning, as Air Quality Index readings there hit the Unhealthy level. The ongoing Crane Fire near Lakeview in Lake County is 45 percent contained, but has been adding smoke to the region for more than a week.

AQI readings in Ashland and at Crater Lake were at Unhealthy For Sensitive Groups levels early Monday, but had improved to Moderate by late morning. At noon there was still a visible pall over the surrounding mountains and a distinct smoky smell in the air.

Jackson County Public Health issued an advisory, as well. They recommend the public ...

• Understand that your planning may be different this year because of the need to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

• Be aware of smoke concentrations in your area • Avoid smoke by staying indoors, and by closing windows and doors.

• Avoid physical activity in smoky conditions.

• Use air conditioning and air filter or cleaners, creating a cleaner air space inside a home.

• People exposed to smoky conditions and who suffer from asthma or other respiratory problems should follow their breathing management plans or contact their healthcare providers.

• It is currently not recommended to use N95 or P100 respirators to prevent smoke exposure, because these particulate respirators are in short supply and are needed by healthcare workers responding to COVID-19. The best way to reduce your exposure to wildfire smoke is to stay indoors.

Meanwhile, areas of Siskiyou County remain heavily impacted by smoke from the south, as well as the ongoing Red Salmon Complex fires burning for more than a week in the Trinity Alps Wilderness. Weed, Etna and Sawyers Bar have Unhealthy AQI readings.

Health authorities stress that cloth, dust and surgical masks don’t protect from the harmful particles in smoke. N95 masks that are tested to ensure proper fit and that are worn correctly may provide protection. Otherwise, they might just provide a false sense of security. They are not recommended for strenuous activities and are in limited supply due to COVID-19. Additional information on wildfire smoke and COVID-19 can be found on the Center for Disease Control webpage.