You are not alone if you are seeing and smelling smoke the past few days. Prescribed burning season is upon us and with it, reduced air quality.
The latest rounds of smoke you are smelling come from prescribed burns south of Sunriver. The burns are designed to protect homes from wildfires and downwind communities from heavy smoke out-of-control fires generate. But any amount of smoke here in fire country makes people wonder what’s going on.
This week’s prescribed fires are burning on federal land adjacent to hundreds of homes in Deschutes River Recreation Homesites.
The prescribed fire are so close, some neighbors are sitting on their back patios watching the show just beyond their backyard fences.
“These folks have been great to work with out here. They are excited to see this work getting done. They understand the value and the protection it brings to their home and their community should a wildfire start in this area,” said Jaimie Olle, public information officer for the Deschutes National Forest.
Working this close to homes, fire managers have water hoses stretched around prescribed burn areas charged and ready to spray, if needed.
“Folks near the burns should close their windows and anticipate some overnight impacts,” Olle said. “When the warm air arrives the next morning, it lifts that smoke up and out of communities. We recognize there’s a little bit of smoke in the air this time of year but we think its necessary to keep folks safe. All this work is to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires in and around our communities and the places we love to recreate. We hope that folks will understand that a little smoke now stops some major smoke in the summer time.”
During prescribed burning season, locals should expect decreased air quality, especially at night.
E::Space Labs, a Bend company that builds and operates a network of 30 air quality monitors from Madras to La Pine, offers their information as a public service.
“Exposure to particulate matter is whatever level it is, times whatever your respiration rate,” said David Robson, E::Space Labs Co-founder. “So obviously breathing heavy taking more air in, you are going to get more exposure the particular matter in the air.”
The prescribed burns south of Sunriver are winding down, but another large prescribed fire is planned northwest of Sisters on Saturday, so watch the air quality and protect yourself.