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Skies choked by Douglas County smoke

Fires raging in eastern Douglas County have been sending smoke pouring into Jackson County the last couple days, according to weather officials.

The 1,710-acre Umpqua North Complex, burning about 50 miles east of Roseburg, and the 1,100-acre Falcon Complex, 25 miles east of Tiller, are the main culprits, said meteorologist Ryan Sandler.

The High Cascades Complex, burning near Crater Lake, also has kicked in some of the haze.

On Thursday, smoke from the Chetco Bar fire, burning in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness since mid-July, was blowing toward the ocean, as were the multiple blazes burning in western Siskiyou County.

"It’s mainly the ones west of Crater Lake and also northwest of there," Sandler said.

Wednesday night, officials at the Umpqua North Complex evacuated residents in the Dry Creek and Illahee areas. The Oregon Department of Transportation closed Highway 138 from mileposts 39 to 54. Numerous area roads and trails surrounding the fire are also closed. It is considered zero percent contained, while the Falcon Complex is 12 percent contained.

The resulting smoke dropped Roseburg's air quality to "unhealthy for sensitive groups" Thursday. Medford, Ashland, Provolt, Shady Cove and Grants Pass were at "moderate."

Jackson County Public Health officials cautioned area residents to continually monitor smoke levels in the area and to limit outdoor exposure, especially those with respiratory conditions such as asthma. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality's Air Quality Index, which tracks air quality around the state and updates once an hour, can be viewed at www.deq.state.or.us/aqi.

— Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.