Wildfire smoke turns Sisters air 'unhealthy'

SISTERS, Ore. - The Pole Creek Fire, six miles southwest of Sisters, sent dense smoke into the town early Tuesday morning -- and the people who monitor air quality say it's likely to continue.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality said calm conditions and a temperature inversion caused smoke from the fire to settle in at ground level between 3 a.m. and 9 a.m.

Smoke concentrations at the air quality monitor in Sisters reached hazardous levels during this time -- and the DEQ's Air Quality Index still called it "unhealthy" early Tuesday afternoon.

Check the latest readings in Sisters and around the state here.

The DEQ urged everyone to avoid outdoor exertion during such conditions. People with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children should remain indoors.

The National Weather Service predicts that calm conditions, a high pressure system and nighttime temperature inversions could cause very smoky mornings through Saturday.

Conditions are expected to improve as daytime temperatures rise and the smoke lifts away from ground level.

However, under certain weather conditions wildfire smoke can drift into communities and quickly cause unhealthy air quality.

Should additional smoke events occur, DEQ and health officials urge local residents to take the following precautions to avoid breathing problems or other symptoms from smoke:

· Be aware of smoke concentrations in your area.

· Avoid smoke by staying indoors, closing all windows and doors and using a filter in a heating/cooling system that removes very fine particulate matter. If possible, avoid smoky areas.

· Avoid strenuous outdoor activity including sports practice, work and recreation.

· People with concerns about health issues, including those suffering from asthma or other respiratory problems should follow their breathing management plans or contact their healthcare providers.

Remember, local smoke levels can rise and fall rapidly, depending on weather factors including wind direction. People can conduct a visual assessment of smoke levels to quickly get a sense of air quality levels and take precautions. If people have additional concerns, they should contact the nearest regional or local public health agency for the latest in health conditions from smoke.

For more information about local conditions:

· Visit DEQ's wildfire information page for more information regarding active fires and air quality, along with tools to help people assess smoke levels in their area.

· Tune to local radio and TV stations and the Weather Channel in affected areas that may include the very latest fire information in news programming and weather reports.

· Obtain a dedicated NOAA Weather Radio receiver, which will alert you 24 hours a day to hazards in your area.

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