Forest fire smoke fouls air in communities across Western Oregon

Smoke is visible in the air over Eugene on Tuesday, August 22, 2017.

EUGENE, Ore. - Smells like a campfire where you live?

You aren't imagining things.

Smoke from massive forest fires burning out of control across Oregon is filling the air over cities, pushing air quality to hazardous levels.

And you can't just blame a single fire.

The smoke over Eugene on Tuesday is likely from the Rebel and Jones fires, the blazes burning closest to Eugene/Springfield.

But the Whitewater Fire, the Chetco Bar Fire, the Milli Fire and others continue to pump out smoke as the blazes burn through thousands of acres.

Jo Niehaus with the Lane Regional Air Protection Authority said residents can expect to see smoky skies throughout the summer due to the wildfires burning in our area.

Northwest Oregon could see some relief Tuesday night and Wednesday thanks to an onshore flow, the National Weather Service said.

But a shift to east winds this weekend could carry smoke into the Willamette Valley, forecasters said.

Niehaus said the Oakridge area has consistently seen the poorest air quality conditions.

As of midday Tuesday, air quality in Oakridge had reached the Unhealthy level. Eugene/Springfield stood at moderate, according to LRAPA air monitors.

Grants Pass, Medford and Ashland also had Unhealthy air as of noon Tuesday, according to state air monitors.

Roseburg hit the Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups level, meaning the air could be a problem for people with respiratory issues.

Those communities are under an Air Quality Alert until further notice, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality said.

"Wildfires burning in the region combined with forecast conditions will cause air quality levels to fluctuate and could be at unhealthy levels," the National Weather Service in Medford said. "Pollutants in smoke can cause burning eyes, runny nose, aggravate heart and lung diseases, and aggravate other serious health problems. Limit outdoor activities and keep children indoors if it is smoky. Please follow medical advice if you have a heart or lung condition."

The worst air in the state? The City of Sisters near the Milli Fire saw air quality reach the Hazardous level on Tuesday, according to DEQ monitors there.

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