Monday, June 29, 2015

Monday, June 29, 2015

Five new large wildfires started in Oregon over the weekend which will created moderate smoke impacts in parts of central and eastern Oregon.   As of this morning, DEQ monitors in LaGrande, Enterprise, and Sisters were all showing moderate air quality.  Surprisingly, the monitor in John Day was showing good air quality. The DEQ monitor in Baker City is not reporting data.

 During the night, smoke is expected to drain into the valleys.  Communities down valley from the fires are expected to received smoke impacts.  Any smoke reports from Baker City or other locations around the state receiving smoke would be appreciated.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Buckskin wildfire is winding down

Update on the Buckskin Wildfire for June 23, 2015

The Buckskin Fire has grown to 4,993 acres as firefighters continued burnout operations yesterday along the southern perimeter near Baldface Creek. Overall containment has improved to 45%. Today, crews along the southwest edge of the fire will work to complete interior burnout operations. Helicopters will support the burnout with bucket drops, sling load cargo off the line and shuttle personnel.
Crews working the eastern flank are in various stages of mop up, repair and monitoring. WIldland Fire Modules on the western flank continue to monitor the inactive fire edge. The fire area will continue to smolder and creep in the drainage creating visible smoke until a season ending event occurs, likely later in the Fall.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality

News Release



Release Date: June 19, 2015


Greg Svelund, DEQ Public Affairs, Bend, 541-633-2008

Jonathan Modie, Oregon Health Authority/Public Health, 971-246-9139

DEQ issues an air quality advisory for Josephine County and the community of O’Brien due to wildfire smoke 


DEQ urges Josephine County residents, especially those living in O’Brien, to take precautions from wildfire smoke


The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and state and local health officials urge residents in Josephine County and the community of O’Brien to take health precautions from smoke caused by the nearby Buckskin Fire burning in southwestern Oregon.


Should smoke occur, residents can take the following precautions to avoid breathing problems or other symptoms from smoke:


·         Be aware of smoke concentrations in your area and avoid the places with highest concentrations.

·         Avoid smoke either by leaving the area or protecting yourself by staying indoors, closing all windows and doors and using a filter in your heating/cooling system that removes very fine particulate matter.

·         Avoid strenuous outdoor activity in smoky conditions.

·         People suffering from asthma or other respiratory problems should follow their breathing management plans or contact their healthcare providers.


Remember, local smoke levels can rise and fall rapidly, depending on weather factors including wind direction. People can conduct a visual assessment of smoke levels to quickly get a sense of air quality levels and take precautions. If people have additional concerns, they should contact the nearest regional or local public health agency for the latest in health conditions from smoke.


Visit the Oregon Smoke Blog for more information regarding active fires and air quality, along with tools to help people assess smoke levels in their area.


Friday, June 19th 2015 Air Quality Summary for Buckskin Fire

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Use the "5-3-1 Visibility Index" if there is heavy smoke in your area

On the left margin under Hot Links is a link to the 5-3-1 Visibility Smoke Index

Although there are many smoke monitors across the state, often there are situations where there are none close to you.  Making visual observations using the 5-3-1 visibility index is a simple way of estimating smoke levels, and then deciding what precautions to take. This can be a useful tool.  Persons should always use caution and avoid going outside if visibility is limited, especially persons who may be sensitive to smoke.
haze and smoke affects health

Estimating visibility using the 5-3-1 Index

Determine the limit of your visual range by looking for distant targets or familiar landmarks such as mountains, mesas, hills, or buildings at known distances (miles). The visual range is that point at which these targets are no longer visible.Ideally, the viewing of any distance targets should be made with the sun behind you. Looking into the sun or at an angle increases the ability of sunlight to reflect off of the smoke, and thus making the visibility estimate less reliable.
Once distance has been determined, follow this simple guide:
    If over 15 miles  The air quality is generally good.
    Between 5-15 miles
    Air quality is moderate and beginning to deteriorate, and is generally healthy, except possibly for smoke sensitive persons. The general public should avoid prolonged exposure if conditions are smoky to the point where visibility is closer to the 5 mile range.
    If under 5 miles
    The air quality is unhealthy for young children, adults over age 65, pregnant women, and people with heart and/or lung disease, asthma or other respiratory illness. These people should minimize outdoor activity.
    If under 3 miles  The air quality is unhealthy for everyone. Young children, adults over age 65, pregnant women, and people with heart and/or lung disease, asthma or other respiratory illness should avoid all outdoor activities.
    If under 1 mile  The air quality is very unhealthy, and in some cases may be hazardous. Everyone should avoid all outdoor activities.

Using the 5-3-1 Visibility Index
Distance you can see*
You are: You have:
  • An adult

  • A teenager

  • An older child

  • Age 65 and over

  • Pregnant

  • A young child

  • OR
  • Asthma

  • Respiratory illness

  • Lung or heart disease

  • 5 milescheck visibilityminimize outdoor activity
    3 milesminimize outdoor activitystay inside
    1 milestay insidestay inside

    No matter how far you can see, if you feel like you are having health effects from smoke exposure, take extra care to stay inside or get to an area with better air quality.  You should also see your doctor or other health professional as needed.
    * less reliable under high humidity conditions

    Wednesday, June 17th Smoke Forecast for Areas Effected by the Buckskin Fire

    Today, Wednesday June 17th
    Minimal isolated fire-spread today is predicted for today with limited smoke production. Smoke is forecast to move over the Illinois Valley in the afternoon hours.  Communities forecast to be impacted included: O’Brien, Takilma, and possibility as north as Cave Junction or Kerby.  Smoke will likely to stay within the Illinois Valley for the remainder of the day. Visibility along HWY 199 may be reduced throughout the Illinois Valley.  Areas southwest of the fire (Smith River, Gasquet, Rockland, etc.) if impacted, will start to clear in today’s morning hours.  Smoke will return during the evening hours in the river drainage.
    Forecast for tomorrow Thursday June 18th
    Firing operations are expected to start today in the early afternoon hours.  If started as planned, smoke concentrations will increase.  Models indicate that smoke will travel over the Illinois Valley in the afternoon hours.  Communities forecast to be impacted included: O’Brien, Takilma, Cave Junction, and Kerby. Smoke will be in greater concentrations than the previous days. 

    Friday, June 12, 2015

    Friday June 12 Wildfire Update

    Given recent news about the start of this summer's wildfire season, here's today's morning briefing on current wildfires and potential for new fires.  While there are several new fires, none so far are major size. This daily briefing can be found at the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center website at, which has a link on the left side of this blog under "hot links". Also several maps at this website show when there are major wildfires around the state. The other best link to check is Inciweb, also at the left

    Thursday, June 4, 2015

    Significant Wildfire Outlook for 2015

    The following is from the National Interagency Coordination Center (NICC). The following maps show the wildfire potential for June, July, August and September, 2015.  The entire document can be found at the following link, National Wildland Significant Fire Potential Outlook. See also

    These are only predictions.  The actual severity of the fire season will depend on factors that are less predictable months in advance such as lightning occurrence and winds.

    Monday, June 1, 2015

    Oregon Smoke Blog Activated for 2015

    The 2015 fire season is here, and the smoke blog is now active.  We'll keep people updated if there are wildfires and smoke issues.