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Winds keep prescribed burn smoke out of Bend, but it streamed into south county

(Update: adding video, new information, comments from USFS official & folks affected by smoke)

Though not so ideal for 'unhealthy' south-county air quality

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- It wasn't hard to miss Thursday's 350-acre prescribed burn west of Bend near Phil's Trailhead. Smoke was expected, though the amount was not fully anticipated. It led to poor air quality in southern Deschutes County.

"When you think about your campfire, and how much just your campfire will put up a lot of smoke, imagine that times 350 acres,” U.S. Forest Service Public Affairs Officer Kassidy Kern told NewsChannel 21.

The prescribed burn took place in an area which, according to the Forest Service, is a critical landscape they've been working on for several years.

"We have basically the puzzle that is west Bend,” Kern said. “This was -- this is -- one of the final pieces that put this landscape in a more resilient position."

Kern said the Deschutes National Forest scheduled the prescribed burn for Thursday, not in spite of -- but because of the strong northeasterly winds that were forecast and we had throughout the day.

“We are looking for winds that are going to pick this smoke up and push it out of Bend,” Kern said. “The smoke has to go somewhere, and unfortunately, we do have smoke impacts south of Bend.”

Southern Deschutes County, specifically Sunriver and La Pine, were recording ‘Unhealthy’ air quality levels late Thursday afternoon.

Bruce Smith, a homeowner in Sunriver, told NewsChannel 21, “(We were) just doing some work on our house, and every time we would walk out to cut this or cut that, it was getting a little bit smokier."

Mandy Cramer, who was visiting from Salem, said, “We're here on vacation. I expected to be outdoors the whole time. It was so smoky. I was kind of worried about bringing my kids out to ride bikes and just play."

Kern said that's a small price people have to pay now, in order to have protection during fire season.

"When wildfire does come -- and it will come,” she warned, “we need to be able to safely put firefighters in there to engage it. Doing prescribed burns like this help us protect our communities.”

The Forest Service finished ignitions on the fire Thursday evening.

Kern said cooler temperatures and calmer winds overnight could make the air quality dip again, before it improves and clears out by mid-morning Friday.

She said more prescribed burns are planned in the coming weeks, including Friday near La Pine, so people should expect to see more smoke in that span.

Bend / Central Oregon / Deschutes County / Fire / Fire Alert / Government-politics / La Pine / Top Stories
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Max Goldwasser

Max Goldwasser is a reporter and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Max here.



  1. …well, thank God that Bend was saved from having to deal with air quality issues from this prescribed burn. I will assume that the issues that my immediate family and others in La Pine at risk for respiratory problems from the smoke that rolled in this afternoon will be considered to be collateral damage to the attainment of a larger goal since we aren’t big city Bend residents..

    1. After what we experienced during the Beachie Creek Fire, I think we can tolerate one day of smoke if it somehow helps prevent anything like that from happening on a regular basis.

      1. Gee Martha… a whole day assigned to polluting Oregon’s Southern region and our regional air- sickening the children with developing lungs- attacking those with “underlying conditions” like asthma- and what about Gramps ? You forget about all them on your “Day of Toxic Emissions” ??? Add to the fact that these burns are not “one day events”- and your comment comes off as completely idiotic- but expected !

        1. Please forgive this user. He suffers from irreversible brain damage and is only capable of vomiting up fantasies from his armchair.

  2. Duhhhhhhhh, we are the garbage leaders of Bend. We like poisoning our citizens so we can save a few bucks. You are garbage and here’s hoping karma catches up with you. You are so disgusting

  3. If I had done this to my neighbors during a weekend burn… “not so ideal for ‘unhealthy’ south-county air quality”… according to the “Burn Permit” I carry in my back pocket- I am in violation- and the Nosy Californian down the road would have every right in the world to turn me in. So where is the Deschutes County Fire Department, DEQ, and OSHA on this ??? Besides asleep at the wheel !!! This is your hypocritical Government in action- they will shut down “outdoor activities” for a year- blaming a Wuhan virus- that we now know is damn near harmless outside… yet will add millions of tons of air pollutant into the atmosphere- to float down to neighboring counties that already suffer “THE HIGHEST” amount of air pollution year after year in the whole damn country ! That’s right- cities like Medford and Roseburg rank right up there with cities like New Dehli- Calcutta- Beijing ! Once again- Doosh is a typical Demokant county- “do as we say not as we do” ! This is criminal and I hope the Southern County’s GOP representatives sue these clowns in Demonrats in Da-Chutes for every new ventilator or dust mask they now need to provide the citizens and hospitals !

    1. How many days is New Dehli in extreme unhealthy air quality?

      Now how many days is Medford in that state?

      You’re literally ********. Good thing your mental disabilities keep you locked inside your basement like the fool you are.

      1. Hey.. let’s throw Portland into the mix too… read the facts… then hope your liberal life of lies and lunacy don’t pop that remaining amoeba sized brain cell of yours ! “Portland’s air quality was the worst of major cities in the world Friday, due to Oregon and Washington wildfires
        Updated Sep 11, 2020; Posted Sep 11, 2020″… Your link Stooge !

    2. You realize that Oregon has to burn up in order to adapt correct? I would like to know your where you got your Science degrees from because you sound so stupid or you are one of the 1 in a 100 Scientists that get paid to deny global warming. Which one is it? I say just Stupid

      1. Here Martha- chew on this from 2018… it’s a good pairing to the article I linked above dated 2020… Yup- it seems your Demokant Government has settled in to a miserable life of incompetence- toxic air- and economic ruin… now- from the American Lung Association-

        “Four Oregon metro areas are among the 50 worst nationwide for air pollution spikes, a new report from American Lung Association finds.”… “Eugene ranks 24th for short-term particle pollution — spikes lasting hours to days that increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes and cardiovascular disease.” “The Bend/Redmond/Prineville area ranks 26th. The Portland/Vancouver/Salem area ranks 32nd.”… “And the Medford/Grants pass area is 34th. It also came in 50th for year-round particles.” !!! OOOOHHHH MARTHA !!! What about the children ? The Grandparents ?? Them underlying conditions ??? Wahhhhhhh !!! Here’s yer link !

        “Our reality is Oregonians are breathing unhealthy air, which puts us at risk for premature death and other serious health effects,” said Carrie Nyssen, a vice president at the American Lung Association in Oregon.

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