Fire Alert

Wildfire smoke can be helpful (to firefighters)

Keeps direct sun off fire lines - but there are downsides

Smokey Skies Help Firefighters Fight Blaze

WARM SPRINGS, Ore. - Smoke is a burning topic on on the minds of Central Oregonians. And Monday, Samantha O'Connor went out to Warm Springs to find out more about the haze.

The smoke was thick -- you could smell it and feel it as soon as you got out of the car.

But officials tell NewsChannel 21 that the smoke actually helps fight these fires, "Because it keeps the direct sun off the fire, not as much as oxygen, firefighters are allowed to get a little closer and do some good work," said Information Officer Jim Whittington.

While it's easy to complain about the smoke -- and the scratchy throat-- just remember the firefighters out on the lines.

"Even though it's smoky for the rest of the community, we think it's going to pay off in the long run," Whittington said.

The smoke also blocks the mountain views: "Mt. Hood is over there, but you can't even see it because of all the smoke," Whittington explained.

But the thick smoke can also cut visibility in half, which makes certain firefighting techniques difficult.

Whittington told us, "The downside to a day like this -- you don't have the opportunity to use aircraft very much, because they can't see where they are flying or where they are dropping water or retardant."

Officials are confident in their progress, especially now that the smoke is on their side.

While smoke can be uncomfortable, officials say there are no proven long-term effects of smoke inhalation -- if brief enough and not too intense. Experts suggest staying indoors if you are struggling with the smoke and, of course, avoid physical exercise.

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