The Red Cross says it’s handed out about 20,000 respirator masks so far in southern Oregon communities plagued by wildfire smoke.The state continues to measure unhealthy levels of smoke pollution in places like Cave Junction and Grants Pass.
Medford asthma specialist Dr. Kevin Parks says he’s used to seeing an uptick in patients during fire season in the Rogue Valley. But this year it’s much worse.
“The amount of smoke we have in the valley now, when you can’t see a mile, even healthy people will often start to have symptoms. And in asthmatics, it will often shows up as shortness of breath, chest tightness, their medication needs will increase" says Parks.
Parks says people experiencing symptoms should stay inside and avoid physical activity.
Relief could be on the way. The National Weather Service is forecasting thunderstorms and rain this week in Southwest Oregon. That weather could help clear out the smoke.
Meteorologists say the thunderstorms could spark new wildfires, but it’s less likely given the forecast of rain.
More than 5,000 firefighters are working to contain the blazes in Southwest Oregon.
Copyright 2013 Oregon Public Broadcasting