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Smoke Envelopes Oregon, Washington in 24 Hours

August 23, 2015

Smoke from Washington wildfires is on its way out, but the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and public health officials continue to warn people to limit their time outdoors until the haze clears.

Air quality is classified as unhealthy as of Sunday morning and visibility was limited in cities along Interstate 84 and throughout the Willamette Valley after smoke from numerous fires funneled down the Columbia River Gorge.

The smoke moved in quickly. Satellite imagery from MODIS shows that it took about 24 hours for Oregon and Washington to be completely covered.

According to the Pacific Northwest Wildfire Coordinating Group, wildfire operations have been active for the past 67 days, with 43 fires currently burning across Oregon and Washington.

Cooler temperatures and reduced winds helped firefighters Saturday battling a large wildfire in Oregon south of the towns of John Day and Canyon City.

Fire officials expect wind to pick up Sunday, but since winds were expected to blow out of the southeast, they will send the fire back into an area that has already burned.

To the northeast, fire fighters also made progress Saturday on the Grizzly Bear Complex of fires in northeast Oregon and southeast Washington.

Pacific Northwesterners haven't experienced this level of fire activity since 2007.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Wildfire smoke covers much of Oregon and Washington Saturday at 10:25 p.m.

USDA Forest Service