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Forecasts: Smoke expected in Ashland Sunday

Owing to shifting winds and crews' backfires to keep the raging Klamathon wildfire from spreading too far beyond the California border, meteorologists expect smoke to build in the southernmost portions of Southern Oregon.

As wind patterns shift northwest, smoke is forecast to build in the Ashland area Sunday afternoon and into the beginning of the week, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Connie Clarstrom.

Clarstrom said the harder-hit areas will be the southern part of the Cascades into Klamath County.

Less-than-stable conditions at the surface make wind predictions and exact time frames difficult to predict, according to Clarstrom, who said she expected to begin spilling into Ashland, Howard Prairie and head northeast by Sunday afternoon and into Monday.

Closer to the fire in the Colestin Road area, an inversion layer of smoke made spotting flames difficult Saturday afternoon, according to Colestin Fire District Chief Steve Avgeris. Crews needed a better look at flames in order to decide whether to change evacuation levels set Friday night in south Jackson County near the California border.

As of Saturday afternoon, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality real-time air quality monitors in Ashland and Klamath Falls both recorded good air quality for both standard pollution and fine particulate readings. Ashland's monitor is located at Ashland Fire Department and Klamath Falls' station is located at Peterson School, according to the DEQ. Multiple state and federal agencies are providing updated smoke information at oregonsmoke.blogspot.com.

Jackson County Health and Human Services warned in a Friday press release that the DEQ monitoring locations are limited, pollution levels may be higher in nearby areas and that wildfire smoke can rise and fall rapidly. Health and Human Services recommends people with heart and respiratory conditions, senior citizens, infants and children, pregnant women and smokers watch for smoke levels. Should smoke levels increase, those at risk should avoid strenuous activities outdoors, consider home air-filtration systems, keep their doors and windows closed and stay indoors.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.

Mail Tribune file photo from 2013.