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More prescribed burns as Bend skies turn smoky


Bend resident Zach Pierce noticed hiking up Pilot Butte was harder than usual on Monday.

“Yeah, I smelled the smoke before I was coming up,” Pierce said. “Actually it’s a little less windy down below when I started coming up I noticed the smoke.”

Fire season is right around the corner, meaning smoke from controlled burns is affecting people here in Central Oregon.

Nick Yonker, a smoke and meteorology manager for the Deschutes National Forest, said the best way to stay safe from smoke produced by prescribed burns is to try and avoid it, as much as you.

“The best is to stay away with it at much as possible,” said Yonker.

While smoke inhalation is often difficult to avoid, Yonker said these burns are best for the community.

“The idea with the forecast is to keep the smoke out of the residential areas like Bend,” he said.

While a plume of smoke typically lasts two to three hours, Yonker said the smoldering will sometimes last through the night.

“We try to do the best to make it safe for the community air quality-wise, but also do the important job of putting out fire in a controlled manner, as opposed to an uncontrolled manner,” he said.

Deana Wall works as a forest fuels program manager for the Deschutes National Forest. She said wind direction plays a key role in controlling prescribed burns.

“They are important to the fire and transport of the smoke;” she said. “They are important when they are ground level winds.”

Wall said although the smoke is inconvenient, the burns are needed to reduce forest fuels and keep us safer when wildfire season hits.

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