Smoke-filled air leaves empty campgrounds

Cascade lakes see small pre-holiday crowds

Smoky skies leave empty campgrounds

BEND, Ore. - Thick smoke is filling the air in the Cascade Range. Many campgrounds like Hosmer Lake, Elk Lake, Little Fawn and Point Campground have fewer visitors than typical for late summer before Labor Day. 

NewsChannel 21's Jessie Foster visited several of the sites Wednesday and said the smoke was thick and it was harder to breathe. 

Fire officials say the Nash Fire is about 4 miles away from Elk Lake, which saw Deschutes County emergency managers step up their pre-evacuation notice on Wednesday from Level 1 (Be Ready) to Level 2 (Bet Set to leave at a moment's notice).

Some campgrounds have reservation signs saying some people are camping this weekend, but for now, many areas are deserted. 

Foster met a group from the Willamette Valley who were kayaking on Hosmer Lake for the day. One visitor, Don Fohl, said they were aware of the wildfires near the area, but were hoping winds were pushing it away from the lakes. 

Foster asked him if they would consider coming back again this summer. 

"No, I would wait until the smoke cleared up," Fohl said. "Earlier, there were a lot of people when we came in and there were a number of people putting in, and some fishermen were taking out. It made you work a little harder with the smoke, because the breathing was a little more difficult. But overall, it wasn't that bad, really."

Hosmer Lake, The Point, Little Fawn Campground, Mallard Marsh Campgrounds, Sunset View and Beach Day Use Area, and Quinn Meadows Horse Camp are all on Llevel 2 evacuation notice. This means "get set" to leave, should the fire move closer quickly.

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