A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

And suddenly, our air was filled with smoke

Written September 7th, 2020 by Hasso Hering

On the evening of Labor Day, a pall of gray smoke hangs over Riverside Cemetery in Albany.

Driven by a gusty east wind, a cloud of smoke from distant wildfires rolled into Albany tonight, the evening of Labor Day.

The Albany police put out a message to reassure people: “High winds have brought smoke from nearby forest fires that is expected to linger for the next two days. There are no fires in Albany.”

Just where those “nearby” fires were, or how far away, was not immediately clear. An online map by “PNW smoke cooperators” showed a bunch of wildfires just east of the northeast corner of Linn County, in the Cascades.

The DEQ said tonight that the smoke in the central and southern Willamette Valley was coming from the Lionshead Fire near the Jefferson Wilderness and the Beachie Creek Fire in the Opal Creek Wilderness. The agency said the valley should expect smoke through Tuesday afternoon.

Even though we could see and smell the smoke in the air, the air quality monitoring index as of 7 p.m. showed Albany and Corvallis with “moderate” air quality, one step better than “unhealthy for sensitive groups.” (The Albany air quality monitor is situated at Calapooia Middle School.)

Not a great idea to ride a bike in these smoky conditions. (hh)




7 responses to “And suddenly, our air was filled with smoke”

  1. M. M. Scott says:

    OMG from about 5pm to now, 8:15 pm it’s gotten so bad even IN my house it’s harder to breathe!

  2. Connie says:

    I put a dampened cloth inside one of my covid masks and wore it around the house for a while. It really gave me some relief because of the lower than usual humidity. Who would have thought one of those masks would be so useful!

  3. Bill Kapaun says:

    If you need a boost on your inside air purification get a 20″ box fan, furnace filter & about 8′ of duct tape.

    The $12ish filter will remove coarser smoke particles. (and all? pollen)
    The $22ish filter will remove finer smoke particles, but flow less air.

  4. HowlingCicada says:

    “””Even though we could see and smell the smoke in the air, the air quality monitoring index [AQI] as of 7 p.m. showed Albany and Corvallis with “moderate” air quality …”””

    That’s because the AQI is some kind of “algorithmic” running average of the current PM2.5 reading (itself a 1-hour average) and some previous readings; I don’t know the details. It works badly if you just want to know conditions RIGHT NOW. That “moderate” (yellow code) reading was deceptively low because of the sudden onset.

    The frequently broken, often buggy, slow, confusing Oregon DEQ map is down right now, of course. I found a much nicer map of the whole country:
    Click on any dot to get details and history.

    No problem at my apartment in Corvallis. No air conditioner or other silly stuff, just kept all the windows closed. Our PM2.5 readings were mostly about 2/3 as bad as Albany’s.

  5. Richard Vannice says:

    We have relatives living between Lyons and Mill City and they were evacuated about 2 O’clock this morning.
    Hwy 22 was one way only going west. Scary!!!


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