The poor air quality advisory for Lane County has been extended in Oakridge and other parts of eastern Lane County through Friday morning due to smoke from the Cedar Creek Fire, according to the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency.
Earlier this week LRAPA issued an air advisory until Wednesday morning for a wider area of Lane County, extending into Eugene and Springfield.
In Oakridge, air quality is likely to remain at “unhealthy” or “very unhealthy” status on LRAPA’s air quality index this week, according to a news release. On Wednesday morning Oakridge had a worse “hazardous” quality rating of 352.
It’s unclear whether air quality will improve enough for the advisory to be lifted in Oakridge on Friday. LRAPA will reassess later this week if the advisory needs to be extended again, agency spokesperson Travis Knudsen said.
The Oakridge area’s proximity to the Cedar Creek Fire prompted the extension. “They are seeing favorable wind flow (Wednesday) afternoon that should improve air quality in the Oakridge area, but at nighttime some of that smoke will settle into the valley.”
While the rain that has fallen this week is helpful with suppressing wildfires, Knudsen said it does not help to improve poor air quality caused by smoke.
LRAPA is advising Oakridge and Westfir residents to close their doors and windows and run an air purifier to protect indoor air quality. Current air quality ratings can be found online at lrapa.org/air-quality-protection/aqi-forecast.
The Cedar Creek Fire’s size as of Wednesday morning was 113,637 acres and it is 14% contained. A little more than 2,350 people are attending to the fire, using 79 engines, 44 crews, 88 pieces of heavy equipment and nine helicopters, according to Willamette National Forest officials.
As conditions allow, firefighters are checking on various recreation and special sites within the burn area. Huckleberry Lookout and Taylor Burn Guard Station remain in place and are still wrapped with fire-resistant material. Some areas, such as the Joe Goddard Grove, are in the interior of the fire area and crews are not able to safely access them on the ground yet.
Possible light rainfall on Wednesday could further reduce fire activity, but drier and warm weather into the weekend may increase fire activity by early next week, fire officials said.
Eugene and Springfield will see improvement of air quality into Thursday. It’s expected to remain at “moderate” or “good” quality for the remainder of the week.
Those most at risk include infants and young children, people with heart or lung disease, older adults and pregnant people. LRAPA asked that schools consider the public health risks when holding outdoor activities for children.
Here are some other tips LRAPA provided in its announcement:
- Stay inside if possible. Keep windows and doors closed. If it’s too hot, run air conditioning on recirculate or consider moving to a cooler location.
- Avoid strenuous outdoor activity.
- Use high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters in indoor ventilation systems or portable air purifiers. Or create your own air purifying filter by following these instructions.
- Be aware of smoke in your area and avoid places with the highest levels.
- When air quality improves to moderate or healthy (yellow or green on the Air Quality Index), open windows and doors to air out homes and businesses.
- If you have a breathing plan for a medical condition, be sure to follow it and keep any needed medications refilled.
Louis Krauss covers breaking news for The Register-Guard. Contact him at [email protected], and follow him on Twitter @LouisKraussNews.