Smoky High Desert skies pose health risk

NWS issues air quality alert; could create respiratory problems

Smoky skies blanket C.O.

BEND, Ore. - Smoke covered much of Central Oregon skies yet again on Wednesday. Wildfires blazing across Oregon have brought thick, gray smoke into the area. An air quality alert has been issued by the National Weather Service for the tri-county area, set to expire at noon on Thursday.

"There has been some days that have been lightly smoky," longtime Bend resident Gene Eusebio said on Pilot Butte in Bend on Wednesday. "Today and yesterday have pretty much been a quick glance around the horizon and you won't see anything but smoke."

On Pilot Butte, one is normally able to see picturesque views of the Cascades. Wednesday, the views barely extended to downtown Bend.

"The mountains that are normally here, you can't see today," Alex Middleton said. "I mean it's crazy, I had no idea it could take up such a huge area."

The Department of Environmental Quality's Air Quality Index has listed Bend anywhere from "unsafe For sensitive groups" to "moderate." Sensitive groups such as seniors, young children or people with respiratory problems could experience breathing difficulties as the smoke lingers in the area.

"It's not something that they should ignore," said Dr. Ripdeep Mangat of Allergy and Asthma Care Center. "If they are feeling that they can't breathe and are having any chest tightness or shortness of breath, then they need to contact their provider."

Mangat says to pay attention to breathing patterns, use an inhaler if needed, stay indoors, and limit outdoor activities while smoky conditions exist.

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