Wildfires extend their reach as warnings issued
Air quality in Klamath Glen and Weitchpec was classified as “unhealthy” Monday morning, and state regulators urged the public to restrict outdoor activities and stay inside if possible.
Serious spreading of fires in the mid-Klamath region and Southern Oregon over the weekend contributed to the increase in smoke particulates in the lower-Klamath region.
Jeanie Slayton of Crivelli’s bar and restaurant in Klamath Glen said that the smoke had become noticeably thicker in the Glen by Monday, causing her nose to run all day.
Air quality is especially dangerous in the Weitchpec region, hovering just below the “hazardous” level, according to air quality regulators.
“Every time you take a breath, you’re breathing in these particles,” said Rick Martin, Air Pollution Control Officer of North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District.
Air quality conditions in Gasquet were not deemed “unhealthy” Monday evening, but residents are advised to pay close attention to air quality advisories, considering Gasquet’s location.
“Gasquet is in an interesting location where it’s in between a couple major fires,” Martin said, adding that poor air quality has been peaking in the afternoon.
For updated information regarding air quality advisories, call 1-866-BURNDAY (1-866-287-6329) or visit t www.ncuaqmd.org.
The five major fires in Southern Oregon spread to 55,000 acres by Monday with more than 5,400 firefighters dedicated to the blazes. Hotter and drier weather conditions on Monday made firefighting more difficult as crews attempted to contain clusters of new fires.
The largest fire is in southern Douglas County, where residents of 60 homes have been advised to leave.
Crews reported they made progress digging fire lines and considered the Douglas Complex 16 percent contained. They expected temperatures rising to the high-80s or low-90s on Monday, along with rising wind speeds, to make the fire more vigorous. The fire area is estimated at 56 square miles, or about 36,000 acres.
The closest fire to Del Norte, the Labrador Fire, located 13 miles northwest of Cave Junction, has grown to 2,020 acres and is at zero containment with 372 firefighters on scene. Illinois River Road remains closed.
The human-caused Salmon River Complex fires that started near Sawyers Bar on Wednesday grew to 3,800 acres over the weekend, a 2,300-acre increase since Friday. The fire is only 4 percent contained with 668 firefighters on scene. Evacuation plans are being finalized for Sawyers Bar.
The Butler Fire, near Forks of Salmon, has grown to more than 3,000 acres, with 690 firefighters assigned and 5 percent containment. Highway 93 (Forks of Salmon Road) is closed from the east at the Highway 96 intersection and from the west at the Siskiyou County Road yard. Nordheimer Campground is closed. The land around the Salmon River is closed 300 feet from the high watermark between the confluence of Wooley Creek and the confluence of Nordheimer Creek.
The air quality district advises these general precautions to protect your health during a smoke event:
• Minimize or stop outdoor activities, especially exercise.
• Stay indoors with windows and doors closed as much as possible.
• Do not run fans that bring smoky outdoor air inside — examples include swamp coolers, whole-house fans, and fresh air ventilation systems.
• Run your air-conditioner only if it does not bring smoke in from the outdoors. Change the standard air conditioner filter to a medium or high efficiency filter. If available, use the “recirculate” or “recycle” setting on the unit.
• Do not smoke, fry food, or do other things that will create indoor air pollution.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.