Lane County is nestled in the beautiful Willamette Valley, where it is home to many national forests and state parks. The hot, dry summer months have high wildfire risk and danger. The smoke from wildfires can impact Lane County from as far away as California, Washington, Idaho, and even across the Pacific Ocean. However, we also experience wildfires right here at home. Check current conditions with our air quality monitoring stations. They update every hour, 24 hours 7 days a week.
As we approach summer, LRAPA would like to encourage residents to prepare for wildfire season and familiarize themselves with the various resources available:
- Firewise Lane County offers financial grants to residents who are interested in making landscaping or structural improvements to their properties, which can increase the survivability of their home in the event of a wildfire.
- The EPA has numerous resources detailing the health impacts people experience as a result of wildfire smoke and what you can do to protect yourself and your family.
- The Oregon Health Authority also has health-related resources, as well as information on respirators and indoor air pollution during wildfire season.
- The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has a statewide air quality map with Lane County's information on it. They also have an app for your smartphones called "OregonAir" that can send you notifications about your local air quality.
- The Oregon Smoke Blog will have the most up to date forecasting information around fires and wildfire smoke across the state. There is another air quality map here that also shows you the location of nearby wildfires.
Are masks effective during wildfires? The best way to protect your health is to remove yourself from a smoky situation. If you are considering a mask, keep in mind that surgical masks and dust masks do not filter fine particles. N95 respirators are available for purchase at most hardware stores but they are not reliable unless they are fit-tested by a certified professional. Wearing a mask may create a false sense of security when they are not properly filtering our particles and creating more difficulty breathing. Click here for more info on mask wear.
LRAPA issued an Air Quality Alert today until Thursday at 6 AM due to a predicted influx of wildfire smoke in the area. North winds are bringing in smoke from Canada and Washington.
The impacts can be seen in the Portland metro area, making its way down the Willamette Valley.
West winds are predicted to start on Wednesday but will not fully clear out the smoke build up until Thursday.
The smoke intrusion will be heaviest overnight Monday and into Tuesday.
Read the air quality alert here.
The Portland Metro area is getting hit with heavier smoke impacts from the fires in Washington and Canada. The smoke has been mixing in the Columbia River basin and flowing through the metro area and predicted to make its way down the I5 corridor today. It will likely hit Lane County this afternoon with potential to impact the AQI to orange, unhealthy for sensitive groups levels.
The smoke will linger until tomorrow at the ground level. West winds are predicted to clear it out tomorrow although the upper atmosphere smoke will linger for a few more days.
High temps are increasing fire activity and producing more smoke. It is also a contributing factor to higher ozone pollution.
The public is advised to check the AQI often and make alternative plans should the smoke impact increase.
(last updated 8/14/2018 10:00 AM)
Air quality is looking good in Lane County. Higher temps are predicted for this week which could create ozone pollution- resulting in visible haze for the next few days. Winds from the north may carry wildfire smoke from Canada and Washington. Smoke impacts are predicted to get up to mid-high Moderate levels this week.
Wildfire smoke from Northern California and Southern Oregon have made their way to the Willamette Valley, causing visible haze in the sky. However, much of early August still experienced good to moderate air quality as the particulates are staying aloft and not sinking to the ground level where we breathe. The graphic below shows how winds can travel in different directions at different altitudes, ultimately bringing smoke from the south at higher levels but staying clear at the ground levels. This can change as the winds shift and more mixing occurs through the different altitudes. Smoke particulates are expected to settle to the valley floor after staying aloft but can be cleared out by onshore winds and incoming push from a marine layer.
The layer of haze and wildfire smoke has kept the ozone levels from getting drastically high. Throughout the summer, the public can expect to see moderate levels of ozone creep higher when it is very hot and periodic wildfire smoke impacts.
That upper-altitude smoke is finally starting to mix and settle to the ground level. We will be seeing higher AQI levels, probably into the high MODERATE and low UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS (USG) for the next day or so.
We anticipate it clearing out Friday evening with better air quality this weekend.
July 2018Wildfires are raging in Southern Oregon. At the end of July, we started seeing wildfire smoke enter Lane County from the Southern fires, but impact has been very minimal thus far. The smoke is lingering in the upper atmosphere and not settling at the ground level. The air quality monitors show fairly good air quality. Ozone levels may creep up due to high temps later in the afternoon.
LRAPA advises folks to be aware that we are fully in fire season. They should exercise caution whenever they are planning outdoor activities and check their local air quality and wildfire updates.
September and August 2017The summer of 2017 proved to be one of Lane County's worst wildfire seasons to date. Wildfires from the North, South, and East pushed thick plumes of smoke into the Willamette Valley - causing the worst air quality that the county had seen in two decades.
Particulate matter levels consistently hovered between the "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups" and "Unhealthy" levels, with a few days even reaching the "Hazardous" level. High temperatures of 100 and above also resulted in elevated ozone levels, further deteriorating the air quality. LRAPA advised everyone to limit outdoor exposure as much as possible, resulting in the cancellation of games, school activities, and outdoor events, including Cycle Oregon.
The air quality impacted many Lane County residents' health. People reported discomfort, difficulty breathing, itchy eyes and throats. LRAPA worked closely with Lane County Public Health to educate citizens on the proper usage of N95 ventilation masks to prevent inhaling dangerous particulate matter.
The Lane County Public Health Officer, Dr. Patrick Luedtke, provided these recommendations to reduce impacts to health during this prolonged period of poor air quality.
- Public Health Guidance for School Outdoor Activities During Wildfire Events
- HEALTH ADVISORY: Wildfire Smoke
We experienced very heavy wildfire smoke impacts on the 22nd - 24th with strong winds from the east. Wildfire smoke from Eastern Oregon and SE Washington pushed up the Lane County AQI to levels reaching "Unhealthy" and "Very Unhealthy."
For health impact and management advice, visit the Oregon Health Authority's page on wildfire smoke management. For up to date data and maps about air quality around the state, please visit the Oregon Smoke Blog. People with pre-existing conditions will be impacted more adversely than others. Please curtail any vigorous outdoor activity until the smoke clears.
We are seeing smoke impacts in Lane County from southern winds. There are fires in Northern California, Stouts Creek in Douglas County, and Collier Butte in Curry County that are sending some smoke into our airshed. We are asking people to limit outside activity, especially for children, seniors, and people with pre-existing heart/lung conditions. Smoke impact from these fires may continue through tomorrow.
In the summer of 2014, there was a 6000 acre wildfire in Oakridge, only 45 minutes from the Eugene/Springfield metro area. The Deception Creek Wildfirecaused substantial smoke impacts to
Oakridge, Westfir, and nearby cities. LRAPA worked closely with the wildfire fighters, US Forest Service, Oregon Department of Forestry, City of Oakridge, local fire departments, and Lane County Public Health to closely monitor the pollution levels and issue warnings as needed.
The Red Cross had a mobile van unit outside the community center. The City of Oakridge provided a "smoke-free" room with air conditioning and a break from the smoke. Volunteers drove people to and from the smoke-free room. USFS's Air Resource Advisors were on the ground talking to people about daily predictions of smoke travel and potential air quality index levels. LRAPA issued press releases, kept monitoring data, and collaborated with all the partnering agencies to make sure people had accurate, most current information and advice.
Your Health and Wildfire Smoke
Wildfire smoke is especially harmful for seniors, children under 12, and people with pre-existing heart/lung conditions. Inhaling smoke is never healthy, and we advise people to protect themselves by paying attention to local air quality reports, keeping indoor air clean, following your doctor's advice, and evacuate if needed. For more information, please see our guide about the health risks associated with wildfire smoke. Health Threats from Wildfire Smoke (PDF)
Resources and More Information
- Oregon Smoke Blog
- Incident Information System: InciWeb
- Active Fire Mapping Program
- Northwest Interagency Coordination Center
- Wildfire- Oregon Department of Forestry
- Oregon Health Authority - Wildfire Smoke Impacts
- Oregon Department of Environmental Quality: Wildfires and Air Quality
- NWS Smoke Forecast for Pacific NW