Other than the 45-acre Forest Meadows fire south of La Pine which was quickly contained over the weekend, most of the thick smoke blanketing Central Oregon is coming from fires more than 100 miles away.
“We are getting a lot of smoke in the Central Oregon air shed from the Middle Fork Complex just to the west of us on the Willamette National Forest,” said Kassidy Kern, public information officer for Central Oregon Fire Management Services. “We are also getting cumulative smoke from California, the Dixie Fire which is approaching 1 million acres, an unfathomably large fire. There’s also fires in Washington. There’s just a lot of fire on the ground right now.”
“I can definitely smell it and taste it but it’s not an overriding thing for me,” said Matt. “It doesn’t stop me from my day.”
Despite the poor air quality, a few people were out and about playing pickleball and walking their dogs at Pine Nursery Park Monday.
“It’s good in the house. We’ve got a filter and air conditioning, so that’s okay,” said Jim Kleinschmidt, Bend. “Just don’t stay out too long. Don’t breath too hard which is not a problem. We are retired.”
Lest we forget, on Labor Day last year, the Lionshead, Beachie Creek and Holiday Farm fires blew up and torched large swaths of the Santiam and McKenzie River canyons.
Hundreds of homes were destroyed and thousands of people fled for their lives.
“We had an historic wind event. It was an east wind which we rarely see, coming in around 50 to 60 mph with gusts to 90. That just blew everything up, everything that was small…we had several small lightning cause starts,” Kern said. “That just kicked them into overdrive and those fires evacuated our friends and neighbors in their communities and in many cases burned up homes. These fires right now have had similar impacts in California and our hearts go out to those people.”
Fire managers say other than the Grandview Fire near Sisters in early August, Central Oregon has been lucky this fire season.
“We are glad we are not in the position of seeing our communities burn. We don’t want the smoke but we are certainly grateful that it’s not that here,” Kern said
Until the weather cools and we get some precipitation, expect the extreme fire conditions and resulting smoke to continue.