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Heat, lightning, east wind could intensify Oregon fires

A helicopter with firefighting efforts on the Bedrock Fire near Fall Creek east of Eugene.
Bedrock Fire 2023 Facebook Page
A helicopter with firefighting efforts on the Bedrock Fire near Fall Creek east of Eugene.

Warmer temperatures, thunderstorms and winds might mean more fire activity over the weekend in western Oregon.

At a community meeting on the Lookout Fire Wednesday at McKenzie River High School, Incident Meteorologist Tom Wright shared forecast details.

“We are starting into a heat wave pretty much through the weekend,” Wright said. “The two things that I’m most concerned about are the thunderstorm threats. We do have some thunderstorm potential coming up.The other thing is the easterly winds. They’re going to be pretty light. So it’s not a big windstorm, so don’t worry about that. But it’s just enough to come down the drainage and keep the humidity from recovering at night.”

Map of Lookout Fire on Thursday 8/24/2023
Lookout Fire 2023 Facebook page
Map of Lookout Fire on Thursday 8/24/2023

People in the McKenzie River Valley, where the Lookout Fire is burning, are still recovering from the devastating Holiday Farm Fire of 2020.

Lookout Fire

The Lookout Fire is mainly on Willamette National Forest land. As of Thursday, it’s 14,286 acres and 6% contained. More than 1,200 people are working to put it out. Evacuations are in place for areas around the Lookout Fire in Laneand LinnCounties.

Bedrock Fire

The Bedrock Fire near Fall Creek is 31,546 acres and 45% contained.

A virtual community meeting will be held Friday, August 25th, at 5:00 p.m. via Facebook Live on the Bedrock Fire 2023 page. There will be a live question-and-answer session following the presentations. It will also be recorded and available for viewing.

Map of the Bedrock Fire on August 24, 2023
Bedrock Fire 2023 Facebook page
Map of the Bedrock Fire on August 24, 2023

Air Quality

Air quality in eastern Lane County and central Oregon is expected to be poor as the weather will be pushing smoke into these areas through Sunday.

Smoke impacts will be greatest close to the fires in the Cascades. Daily localized smoke impacts are possible in the Willamette Valley, especially eastern portions.

Expect periods of Unhealthy to Hazardous air quality in and around Blue River close to the Lookout Fire. Moderate to Unhealthy air quality is forecasted in Oakridge. And Good to Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups in the Eugene/Springfield area.

Eastern Douglas County and Deschutes county are also under an air quality advisory through Sunday afternoon.

Copyright 2023 KLCC.

Rachael McDonald is KLCC’s host for All Things Considered on weekday afternoons. She also is the editor of the KLCC Extra, the daily digital newspaper. Rachael has a BA in English from the University of Oregon. She started out in public radio as a newsroom volunteer at KLCC in 2000.
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