Thick smoke from Willamette NF wildfire streams into Bend area; air quality at ‘hazardous’ levels



BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – Thick smoke from a wildfire on the Willamette National Forest blew into the High Desert on Monday afternoon and evening, making for “hazardous” air quality readings in Bend.

The Gales Fire, part of the Middle Fork Complex on the Willamette Forest, put up a smoke plume visible from Eugene and other areas as it crossed Forest Road 18 and moved northeast in the area of the Tiller Creek drainage, officials said. The group of fires that broke out in late July have burned more than 9,200 acres and are just 7% contained.

While air quality readings from E::Space Labs (map is halfway down our weather page) improved to moderate or even good from Tumalo north to Redmond, but in Bend, the air quality index hit nearly 500 – twice as bad as the minimum “Hazardous” level. Lesser, but still-hazardous levels were reported in the La Pine and Sunriver areas.

NewsChannel 21’s Max Goldwasser said smoke levels should improve overnight and Tuesday morning, but are expected to worsen again Tuesday afternoon and even, as a big cooldown also arrives.

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