PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Smoke from the Oregon Cascade Range wildfires blamed for making the air unhealthy over a wide area has lessened, a spokeswoman for fire crews said Thursday night.
The Deception Complex fires generated less smoke Thursday than the giant plume that drew air advisory warnings on Wednesday, said spokeswoman Rita Dyer. Calls from residents concerned about the smoke came from as far away as the central Oregon community of Bend.
“There was less of a smoke column Thursday,” Dyer said.
Another expected air inversion could make things smoky early Friday, she added. The forecast calls for lower temperatures and higher humidity that should help firefighters.
Residents of a mobile home park and along a road near the wildfires were on evacuation alert after being temporarily evacuated on Wednesday.
Any residents with mobility issues have left the area, Dyer said.
The wildfire complex has burned across nearly 3 square miles.
Oregon Transportation Department spokesman Rick Little urged people traveling over the holiday weekend to stay informed on the state of the Deception fire.
“If their travel plans include a trip over Highway 58, they should be prepared to take an alternate route, make alternate plans and be ready for the unexpected,” he told The Register-Guard newspaper.
Earlier, the state Department of Environmental Quality said the air quality in Klamath Falls deteriorated Wednesday to a level that’s unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as people with asthma.
The air was similarly dangerous in Bend, the agency said, while the air quality was judged as only “moderate” in the Eugene area on the west side. Between the two cities, the air was rated unhealthy at the center of the fire.
Lightning started the first fire two weeks ago, and it combined with two other fires.
The smoke wasn’t widely bothersome until the wind shifted Wednesday.
Jerry Shortt, 70, said he and his cousin spent hours watering down his 7-acre property near the mountain town of Oakridge, using sprinklers and hoses as burned leaves rained down.
It was the closest that a wildfire has gotten in the nearly 40 years he’s lived on the property, Shortt said. He said his and his cousin’s wives packed up their motorhomes in case an evacuation order came.
“We’ll have to do what we have to do,” Shortt said. “There’s nothing else we can do about it.”