Heavy smoke from Dollar Lake fire leads to air quality warning

September 7, 2011

The National Weather Service is predicting rising temperatures and unpredictable winds this week as thermal troughs push through the region.

Hot weather and winds could escalate the Dollar Lake wildfire on Mount Hood, resulting in continued smoke circulation throughout the Valley.

Until fully controlled, smoke and particulate matter from the fire will downgrade air quality, creating conditions that are unhealthy for sensitive groups such as those with asthma or other respiratory problems.

Al Cady, respiratory therapy department manager at Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital, confirmed that hospital visits from patients suffering respiratory ailments have been on the rise since the fire began last week.

"If people are having difficulty breathing, they should not wait too long before seeking treatment," advises Cady. "They should also stay indoors if possible and use air conditioners which help filter particulate matter."

The Department of Environmental Quality urges people in these areas to take precautions should smoke reach unhealthy levels.

Smoke levels can rise and fall rapidly, depending on weather factors including wind direction.

Should smoke levels persist or worsen, DEQ officials urge local residents to take the following precautions to reduce or eliminate breathing problems or other symptoms from smoke:

Avoid strenuous outdoor activity.

People suffering from asthma or other respiratory problems should follow their asthma or breathing management plans or contact their health care providers.

Be aware of smoke concentrations in your area and avoid the places with highest concentrations.

Avoid smoke either by leaving the area or protecting yourself by staying indoors, closing all windows and doors and using a filter in your heating/cooling system.

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