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8/13/15: Umatilla County Wildfire Update

Date: 8-13-15 6 PM

                             UMATILLA COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT

                            200 SE Third, Pendleton, Oregon

Increase in wildfire smoke brings reduced air quality to Umatilla County

Hazy air predicted through the weekend 

Umatilla County – Smoke from the Eagle Complex, Cornet and Soda Fires in northeastern Oregon will bring smoky air to Pendleton and Hermiston areas for the next several days. These fires have continued to grow in size, forcing evacuations in some areas. The fires are expected to increase in size through this evening, given high winds, low humidity, and hot temperatures.  Pendleton is expected to get more smoke than Hermiston.  Smoke will increase throughout the evening, spreading into Hermiston causing widespread haze.  Currently the air quality levels in Pendleton and Hermiston are at Moderate risk levels. 

“Smoke conditions can change rapidly depending on wind speed and direction, so it is important for people to monitor air quality levels throughout the day. Wildfire smoke may increase the risk of illness especially for older adults, young children, and people with asthma, respiratory, or heart conditions,” said Meghan DeBolt, UCo Health Director. “We encourage people to limit their outdoor activities when air quality levels are moderate to unhealthy.”  

People travelling east on I-84 are advised to take alternate routes or plan to delay their trips, as the interstate has been closed between La Grande and Ontario by ODOT as a precautionary measure due to the smoke levels. 

What the public can do to protect themselves from harmful wildfire smoke:

Ms. DeBolt urges county residents to take the following precautions to avoid health problems when hot, smoky conditions affect our area:
  • Be aware of smoke concentrations in your area. Residents can get the latest information by visiting the Oregon Smoke blog: or call 2-1-1 Info.
  • Avoid outdoor activities when air quality is unhealthy and hazardous. Those with heart or lung problems, as well as young children, are especially vulnerable.
  • Avoid smoke either by leaving the area or protecting yourself by staying indoors and closing all windows and doors.
  • Reduce other sources of indoor air pollution such as burning cigarettes and candles, using gas, propane, wood burning stoves and furnaces, cooking, and vacuuming.
  • Individuals with heart disease or lung diseases such as asthma should follow their health care provider’s advice about prevention and treatment of symptoms.
How healthy is the air in your community?
Check DEQ’s Air Quality Index to see real-time air monitoring data from monitors placed around Oregon.
Conduct a visual assessment: People can conduct a visual assessment of nearby conditions to quickly get a sense of air quality levels. Generally, if you can see up to 15 miles, the air quality is probably good. If you can see less than one mile, the air quality is very unhealthy and everyone should avoid outdoor activities.

For more information on using the visibility index during wildfires, visit
For information on smoke and wildfires in Oregon, visit

Contact Information:
Meghan DeBolt, Director
(541) 278-5432

Sharon Waldern, Clinic Services Program Mgr
(541) 314-1634