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New air quality advisory issued for Southern Oregon

U.S. Forest Service photo Smoke rises from the Chaos fire, which is part of the Rough Patch complex burning northeast of Glide.

A day and a half after seeing its best air quality for the month of August, the Rogue Valley was back to unhealthy smoke levels Thursday — at least through Friday, but possibly longer.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality extended an air quality advisory through at least Friday for portions of Southern Oregon, including Jackson, Klamath and Deschutes counties, according to the state’s Oregon Smoke Information blog.

Medford’s air quality index Thursday afternoon hovered in the 150s and 160s at the DEQ monitor at the corner of Welch and West Jackson streets, which are considered “unhealthy” levels.

Winds were carrying smoke south and east from wildfires burning in the Oregon Cascades, including 16,923-acre Devil’s Knob complex burning in the Tiller Ranger District of the Umpqua National Forest, the 23,728-acre Jack fire burning about 20 miles east of Glide, and the 17,559-acre Rough Patch complex burning about 10 miles north of the Jack fire.

Winds were also carrying smoke from fires that are farther away, according to DEQ, including the 5,761-acre Bull complex burning in the Mount Hood National Forest, the 13,611-acre Middle Fork complex, and fires burning in the southern portion of Washington state such as the 56,422-acre Schneider Springs fire about 18 miles from Naches.

Earlier this week, a cool front brought Southern Oregon some of its best air quality of the month. Medford’s air quality stayed at “good” levels from about 4 p.m. Monday through 6 a.m. Wednesday.

Since Wednesday, air quality has fluctuated, with “unhealthy” levels during the day and “moderate” air quality overnight.

When smoke levels are high, health officials recommend that people stay inside if possible, use HEPA filters in home ventilation systems and portable air purifiers, and people with heart conditions, lung disease or asthma should follow the advice of their health care provider.

Those outdoors during high levels of smoke should avoid strenuous activity and wear properly fitted N95 or P100 respirators.