Valley smoke from field burning, not forest fires

Valley smoke from field burning, not forest fires

12 August 2013

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USA — Smoke settling over the Salem area over the weekend was from field burning, not forest fires.

Grass seed growers burned about 1,000 acres east of Salem Friday, the biggest burn of the year so far, said John Byers, the Oregon Department of Agriculture manager in charge of field burning.

“We try to plan it so the smoke evacuates as effectively as possible,” Byers said. “We were about 90 percent effective. We did have some smoke that filtered down into the valley.”

Smoke from forest fires in Southern Oregon also blew into the Willamette Valley last week, but at relatively high elevations of about 10,000 feet.

“If that’s the case, and we’re burning grass seed fields, we try to put the smoke at 5,000 to 6,000 feet,” Byers said.

That way, the additional smoke does not worsen air quality for residents, he said. However, smoke from about 100 acres did not get up and out as quickly.

“We feel badly when that happens,” Byers said. “The goal is not to impact people.”

More field burning could take place again today, he said.

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