Smoke season is back in Central Oregon. Some places in Bend registering unhealthy to hazardous conditions Monday morning, according to the Air Quality Index.
The Department of Environmental Quality said much of the smoke affecting Deschutes County is from the Bedrock Fire burning in the Willamette National Forest. The smoke will be worst overnight and in the early morning hours.
Bob Hoffman and Jean Duprey are visiting Bend from Jupiter, Florida. This is their first time experiencing the smoke Central Oregonians face every summer.
“I woke up at two in the morning sick when it first started. It’s culture shock. I’ve never seen anything like it. I recently had sinus surgery so this made it worse,” Hoffman said.
“It’s beautiful to come visit here, but I wouldn’t want to be here for this,” Duprey said.
Emily Horton with the Deschutes County Public Health Department says the smoke is expected to get worse over the next few days.
“Try to avoid the smoke. We’d like you to stay inside and keep windows and doors closed,” Horton said.
The most susceptible to smoke are those who can’t escape it and those who have pre-existing lung conditions.
“The houseless population and those living outside as well as anyone with underlying conditions, lung conditions, COPD, those kind of things,” Horton said. “It’s really important for those people to be able to protect themselves.
To that end, the City of Bend announced it was granting an extra 48 hours for residents still living in the Hunnell Road area to clear out. After last week’s closure, about two dozen people were given an extra week due to disabilities.
Horton recommends you avoid exercising outdoors and to use Air Now or other online platforms to monitor the air quality before going outside.
Bend Park and Recreation District was proactive in shutting down the pools at Juniper and Larkspur fitness centers and canceling or relocating some other activities Monday.
“We also recommend indoor air quality filters or putting a MURV 13 or greater filter in your home if you can do that,” Horton said.
Exposure to smoke symptoms are similar to cold and allergy symptoms. They include itchy eyes, scratchy throat, coughing and difficulty breathing. People with worsening symptoms are advised to contact their doctor or visit urgent care.