Science & Environment

Central Oregon overcome with wildfire smoke, unhealthy air conditions

By Joni Auden Land (OPB)
Aug. 16, 2023 9:27 p.m.
A smoke column rises from the Bedrock Fire in this provided photo from Aug. 12, 2023.

A smoke column rises from the Bedrock Fire in this provided photo from Aug. 12, 2023.

Bedrock Fire Incident Command via InciWeb

Central Oregon experienced severely smoky conditions Wednesday from nearby wildfires, leading to poor air quality across the region.


The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has issued an air quality advisory for Crook, Deschutes, Lane and Klamath counties until Thursday night.

DEQ spokesperson Greg Svelund said smoke from the Bedrock Fire in Lane County is drifting to Central Oregon. Two new smaller fires, the Fuzzytail Fire south of Bend and the Johnson Saddle Fire in Crook County, have also created lots of smoke.

“It’s looking quite bleak in Central Oregon at the moment,” Svelund said. The worst air quality in the state shifted overnight from Lane County to Central Oregon, with Bend, Redmond, Sisters, Madras all unhealthy this morning.”

Svelund said the conditions are especially concerning for those without air conditioning. The recommendation is for people to close their windows, but he acknowledged that might not be realistic during a heat wave.

It’s recommended that people stay inside and avoid exercising, if possible. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency posts real time air quality updates via its website,

Deschutes County’s website lists a network of smoke and heat shelters for people seeking refuge in the Bend and Redmond areas.


Related Stories

90 years ago, the devastating Tillamook Burn series of fires began

Starting in 1933, a series of catastrophic wildfires — collectively known as the Tillamook Burn — destroyed tens of thousands of acres along the northern Northern Oregon Coast Range. The fires resulted in one of the world's largest reforestation efforts with 72 million seedlings planted by hand from about 1949 to 1972.