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Smoky air continues to choke region

Wildland firefighters work on the Little Bend fire burning in the Rough Patch Complex in this Aug. 21 photo. U.S. Forest Service photo by Kevin S. Abel, via InciWeb.

Shifting wind patterns and a 3,000 acres more of wildfire since Sunday will extend an air quality advisory for Southern Oregon into at least the middle of the week.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality extended its advisory warning of intermittent smoke — particularly for those living directly downwind of existing fires — into at least Wednesday, but possibly longer, according to a release on the Oregon Smoke Information blog.

At 11 a.m. Monday, Medford’s air quality reached 130, which is considered “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” according to the reading at the DEQ air quality monitor at Welch and Jackson streets. The reading ended 17 hours of “moderate” air quality hovering between the 60s and 80s.

At 1:30, the reading was up to 229, considered “very unhealthy.” At 2 p.m. the reading was 345, considered “hazardous.”

Smoke was expected to increase Monday before improving slightly in the evening and worsening Tuesday, according to an Interagency Wildland Fire Air Quality Response Program smoke outlook for the South Oregon Cascades region.

Driving the smoke is an increase in the activity of fires burning in Douglas County, such as the Devil’s Knob complex, the Jack fire and Rough Patch complex, and other fires around the state.

The fires grew 3,165 acres Sunday, with 24,900 acres “showing intense or scattered heat,” according to fire officials.

“Expect similar fire behavior as crews continue to improve containment lines and continue with burnout operations day and night, as conditions allow,” the outlook states.

As of Monday morning, the Jack fire burning about 20 miles east of Glide had a footprint of about 23,787 acres and was 51% contained. The Rough Patch complex burning about 10 miles north of the Jack fire was at 22,646 acres and 3% contained. The Devil’s Knob Complex burning in the Tiller Ranger District of the Umpqua National Forest was estimated at 23,575 acres and was 25% contained, according to InciWeb.

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