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.
For more up to date information about wildfires from LRAPA, please follow us on Twitter or Facebook.
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