Wildfire smoke envelopes Central Oregon as air quality plummets to ‘hazardous’ levels

Wildfire smoke enveloped Central Oregon overnight Thursday into Friday creating hazardous air quality conditions that closed school buildings, shut down construction work and cast an eery pall on quiet city streets.

The official Air Quality Index in Bend was 521 at 11 a.m. Friday morning, well past the threshold for “hazardous.”

The index reached 617 in Sisters, closer to the Beachie Creek and Lionshead fires burning more than 322,000 acres west of there.

Some airlines have canceled or delayed flights due to unsafe air quality conditions for employees to work outdoors.

The Redmond Redmond Municipal Airport encourages all airline passengers to check flight status before arriving at the terminal.

Redmond and Bend-La Pine school districts closed campuses, halting the free lunch distribution and delaying packet and iPad pickups for many families preparing for BLP’s first day of online learning set for Monday.

Construction halted across town, including at OSU-Cascades where crews have been working on the campus expansion.

Several businesses closed for the day including local Dutch Bros. coffee huts, REI in the Old Mill and many food carts across town.

The situation was expected as the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality on Thursday extended an air quality advisory for much of the state.

Central Oregon Daily’s Hannah Sievert is out and about in the smokey conditions and will have more on how long it will last tonight at 5 p.m.

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