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Smoke from wildfires invades Wallowa County

Published on August 3, 2017 3:36PM

Last changed on August 8, 2017 2:39PM

Wallowa County residents spent much of last week under a canopy of smoke from wildfires in Oregon and Canada. Haze began forming Wednesday afternoon and appeared to peak on Sunday.

Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center, said the smoke came from the Whitewater fire near Mount Jefferson, as well as several large fires burning in British Columbia. A steady southeasterly wind pushed the smoke into the region.

Another blaze, the Cinder Butte fire started at 1 p.m. Wednesday in the Bend area and had spread by around 20,000 acres overnight, and as of Thursday morning was at 30,000 acres. By noon, fire officials said via Twitter that the fire had grown to 56,000 acres.

Two other fires were reported, one in the Baker area and one in Umatilla County.

Closer to home, fire crews responded to the Clarks Creek Fire seven miles southeast of Elgin. Firefighters completed control lines Sunday according to Oregon Department of Forestry. Firefighters were expected to continue securing the line on the 300-acre blaze through Monday.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Firefighters from the Elgin Fire Department, the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest and ODF responded to the incident Saturday.

Throughout the week, air quality varied between good and unhealthy depending on wind direction and time of day. A number of individuals in the county were seen wearing particulant masks.

Health officials warned pollutants in smoke can cause burning eyes, runny nose, aggravate heart and lung diseases and aggravate other serious health problems. Children, the elderly, and individuals with respiratory illnesses were most at risk of serious health effects.

Temperatures are expected to be in the low-90s most of this week, followed by a slow cooling trend, which should bring highs into the upper 80s by the middle of next week. No precipitation is in the forecast for this week.

— Paul Wahl, Managing Editor


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