Umpqua Valley haze to linger

Umpqua Valley haze to linger

30 June 2008

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California, USA — Smoke from several major forest fires in Northern California continued to drift into the Umpqua Valley this morning, creating haze and limiting visibility to 10 miles.

The air quality index for the Roseburg area was listed this morning in the unhealthy range for sensitive groups of people, including children, the elderly and those with lung or heart diseases. People in those groups should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion.

Smoke is blowing in from a series of fires centered around Happy Camp, Calif. — in the forests between Crescent City and Yreka — and farther south in Shasta County.

The smoke concentration is even heavier in other parts of Southern Oregon. Visibility in Medford was limited to 4 miles at midmorning, said Ryan Sandler, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Medford.

The hazy conditions are expected to continue until Wednesday, when a Pacific storm will blow in, sending the smoke east toward Nevada and lowering temperatures in Western Oregon.

“Things will clean out by mid to late week,” Sandler said.

Roseburg’s high temperature Sunday at the Roseburg Regional Airport was 93 degrees, according to the Weather Service, following a Saturday high of 100. KQEN radio recorded a high temperature of 102 degrees both days from its studios on Harvard Avenue.

Today’s forecast calls for a slight chance of afternoon and evening thunderstorms. A high temperature of 85 degrees is predicted for today and 84 on Tuesday. Partly cloudy conditions today are expected to yield to sunny skies on Tuesday.

This morning, crews with the Douglas Forest Protective Association were mopping up several South County fires caused by lightning strikes Saturday evening. They struck in the Glendale, Cow Creek, Days Creek and Tiller areas.

About 60 firefighters tended to the fires on Sunday. That number was expected to drop today.

At the height Sunday, six fires were active, consuming between one-tenth of an acre to 2 acres, said Randy Lemming, DFPA dispatch supervisor. Most were in fairly remote areas, with no structures threatened, he said.

The DFPA had a detection plane flying throughout the district, looking for signs of smoking trees that could later break out in flame. The storm that came through did not produce much rain, so there is a fear the lightning caused some smoldering that will erupt in fire later.

“We’ll continue to fly the district most of the week,” Lemming said.

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