Moderate to heavy smoke expected through Thursday afternoon

A web cam viewable on the Ashland Forest Resiliency Stewardship Project site shows a smoky view of the Ashland watershed on Tuesday afternoon as seen across Interstate 5 where Eagle Mill Road passes under the highway. The road pointing toward downtown Ashland is Oak Street.
August 31, 2022

Air quality in effect due to smoke from Rum Creek Fire burning northwest of Grants Pass

By Bert Etling, Ashland.news

An air quality alert due to smoke from the Rum Creek Fire burning northwest of Grants Pass continues through 5 p.m. Thursday, according to the National Weather Service. Moderate to heavy smoke is expected over Jackson, Josephine and Curry counties at least through Thursday.

The Rum Creek Fire burning in the region combined with forecast conditions will cause air quality levels to fluctuate and could be at unhealthy levels, according to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

An InciWeb image shows the outline of the Rum Creek Fire west of Galice along the Rogue River northwest of Grants Pass.

Smoke levels can change rapidly depending on weather. Check current conditions on the Oregon Smoke Information Blog, DEQ’s Air Quality Index (AQI), or by downloading the free OregonAIR app on your smartphone (search for OregonAir in your app store).

A graph of Oregon DEQ AQI readings at Ashland Fire & Rescue Station No. 1 on Tuesday shows a peak level of 166 at 11 a.m.

Smoke can irritate the eyes and lungs and worsen some medical conditions. People most at risk include infants and young children, people with heart or lung disease, older adults and pregnant people.

When smoke levels are high, it’s recommended to stay inside if possible and keep windows and doors closed. Air conditioning should be run on recirculate.

Air Quality Index guide courtesy of Smokewise Ashland

Ashland’s AQI climbed over the 100 mark deemed unhealthy for sensitive groups at about 10 p.m. Monday, according to state DEQ air monitoring data taken at Ashland Fire & Rescue Station No. 1. Readings stayed well over 100 all day Tuesday, peaking at 166 at about 11 a.m., putting it over the 150 mark where the AQI scale says it’s unhealthy for all. The reading fell to 132 by 10 p.m. Tuesday.

Firefighters are working 24 hours a day to halt the spread of the Rum Creek Fire, the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) reported in its Tuesday evening update, which put the fire’s size at just under 13,000 acres. One home and two other structures have been reported lost to the fire, which had 1,842 people working on controlling it. 

An AirNow map shows the heaviest smoke levels settling in the Rogue Valley in the Medford area late Tuesday.

Crews on Tuesday evening planned to protect homes in Galice and Rand. The fire had burned up to the Rogue River but no spots had crossed the rover to the north below Grave Creek, according to the ODF report, which noted that an inversion layer was expected to trap smoke in the Rogue Valley Tuesday evening.

The lightning-caused fire started around noon Wednesday, Aug. 17, outside of Galice.

The DEQ suggests those needing to find a clean air space visit 211info.org and search for “wildfire related clean air shelters,” or call 211 any time.

Email Ashland.news Executive Editor Bert Etling at betling@ashland.news or call or text him at 541-631-1313.

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Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.


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