Central Oregon's smoky skies linger well into holiday weekend

Bend's air 'very unhealthy,' K-Falls 'hazardous'

BEND, Ore. - After a hot and smoky August for much of the High Desert, wildfire smoke from wildfires near and far kept the air murky and unhealthy in some places across Central Oregon on Sunday, causing many to limit or refrain from typical holiday weekend outdoor activities.

Rising pollution levels had the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s Bend recording station at "very unhealthy" readings for a 24-hour average on Sunday morning, while Sisters was at "unhealthy," Prineville at "unhealthy for sensitive groups" and Madras at "moderate."  They were much the same by late afternoon, though one-hour readings had improved somewhat.

Conditions were even worse to the south, where Klamath Falls was seeing “hazardous” pollution levels Sunday, much as Sisters did earlier in the fight against the Milli Fire.

The Department of Environmental Quality's air quality alert for the region was extended from noon Friday until noon Tuesday, with officials warning that the pollutants could cause burning eyes and runny noses while aggravating heart and lung diseases and aggravating other serious health problems.

"Limit outdoor activities," the agency urged. "Please follow medical advice if you have a heart or lung condition."

The smoke eased a bit Sunday afternoon in Bend – enough to be able to view Awbrey Butte, for example, through the haze (the smoke was so thick as to be completely shrouded a few hours earlier.)

While there are 25 larger wildfires burning across the Northwest, several on the High Desert, the winds are blowing in smoke from southern Oregon, where the Chetco Bar Fire has grown to nearly 143.00 acres, and others farther south, in Northern California.

The region has had some of the worst air quality in the country, as seen at the Website

Check the latest readings at

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