Brookings under evacuation warning as wildfire rages

Residents in Brookings have been warned to be ready to leave because of a wildfire.

Fire started by lightning

Associated Press

BROOKINGS — A growing blaze in southwest Oregon has prompted officials to issue a warning for Brookings residents to be ready to leave.

The Oregonian reported officials issued the notice Thursday afternoon. Unincorporated areas not already under evacuation notices are also included in the warning.

Officials say the fire started by lightning in the in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest July 12 and is about 5 miles northeast of Brookings near the California border.

The fire has scorched over 156 square miles and is zero percent contained.

The fire was listed as the top firefighting priority in the nation Tuesday.

Gov. Kate Brown announced a mobilization of an additional 125 Oregon National Guard resources to start Thursday.

More than 1,700 homes are threatened by the fire and six have been burned. Close to 30 other buildings have been damaged.

Triple-digit temperatures and stubborn smoke from wildfires raging in British Columbia and parts of Oregon, meanwhile, are joining forces to make Portland’s air quality among the worst in the country this week, according to The Oregonian.

Portland’s Air Quality Index, the national standard used to measure the health effects of various pollutants, hovered in the high 170s throughout Thursday, according to the state’s environmental quality department. Those levels exceeded air pollution in Beijing, according to a website that compiles air quality in dozens of countries.

State health officials issued an advisory Wednesday urging Oregonians throughout the Willamette Valley to take caution before going outside.

“People with chronic lung or heart conditions, the elderly, and children have higher risk of health problems from the fine particles in wildfire smoke,” Dr. Richard Leman, a state public health physician, said in a statement. “People who suffer from asthma or other respiratory conditions should follow their disease management plans, keep medications on hand, and contact health care providers if necessary.”

The poor air quality extends throughout much of the Willamette Valley and into Southwest Washington. The Southwest Clean Air Agency, which enforces air quality laws in Washington, issued air pollution advisories for Clark, Cowlitz, Lewis, Skamania and Wahkiakum counties.

Air quality has only worsened since Oregon issued its warning Wednesday.

“That’s not good,” Greg Svelund, a spokesman with Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality, said of Portland’s air quality. “There’s no way around it.”