A wildfire burning in the Willamette National Forest close to Oakridge [Oregon] is about 53% contained. The smoke is causing unhealthy breathing conditions in the surrounding areas. The blaze which is threatening a mobile home park and a ranger district compound.
The Deception complex fire grew from several smaller lightning-caused blazes in mid-August. It’s currently the largest burning wildfire in the northwest at more than 18 hundred acres. Wednesday afternoon it grew by more than 850 acres causing a level 3 mandatory evacuation notice. Later in the evening when temperatures cooled down, it was reduced to level 2. Oregon Department of Forestry Spokesman Tom Bergland says difficult terrain and less fuel in the valley made it unsafe for firefighters.
Bergland: “But now, what we have is a rim of fire around the tops of the ridges. And so we are able to be a little more aggressive, a little more direct. Also, taking advantage of the cooler air, the more moist air.”
Air quality has been a problem, particularly near Oakridge. Currently the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency says the air near the fire is unhealthy for sensitive groups such as children, the elderly or people with lung conditions.
A Breath Safe Room is open in Oakridge and will continue to operate through Friday.
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Breathe Safe Room address: 47674 School Street, Oakridge