I stepped out my parents' front door last Thursday, expecting a typically glorious summer day in southern Oregon. Instead, I was hit with acrid wood smoke that stung my eyes and throat. The air was thick with haze that obscured the mountains. I quickly retreated inside.

Health departments across the West are mobilizing to protect residents from smoke generated by dozens of fires that have sent smoke as far east as the Midwest.

Laurentia Romaniuk / Flickr

Wildfire smoke can cause a lot of health problems – for your lungs, your eyes, and more, particularly if you have chronic health issues. What can you do to protect yourself?

Weather Could Cause Trouble For Washington Fire Crews

Aug 24, 2015

Weather is expected to cause more problems Monday for fires in north central Washington. The Okanogan Complex is burning more than 250,000 acres.

Courtney Flatt

Fires in North Central Washington are continuing to threaten homes and buildings. Thousands of people are still under evacuation orders. But calming winds have helped slow the fires’ progress. 

Washington Incident Management Team #2 / InciWeb

Hot and dry conditions are expected to create above-normal wildfire conditions in parts of the Northwest this summer. While relatively few people will have to flee the flames, many more will experience a side effect of the fires: thick, acrid smoke.

Jessica Robinson

Not everyone fled Sun Valley, Idaho, when a huge wildfire threatened the resort area. Many locals remained in the surrounding communities and kept the stores, restaurants and gas stations open. Now, firefighters are gaining the upper hand. The smoke is clearing. But without the return of vacationers, many locals worry the real disaster is economic – and that one is just beginning.

Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon

A photo snapped by a NASA Satellite this week captured huge plumes of wildfire smoke blanketing Southern Oregon. More than 50,000 acres of forest have burned there. In cities like Shady Cove and Grants Pass, the amount of particle pollution has reached unhealthy levels for more than a week.

Vince Patton / OPB

About a dozen wildfires are still burning in the Northwest, keeping the air hazy and unhealthy. But experts predict few, if any, long-term health effects. Correspondent Anna King reports.

Jim Larson / Flickr

The fight against numerous large fires in central Washington is turning the corner. Since the weekend, fire bosses have been able to release nearly 400 firefighters from the blazes near Wenatchee. But forecasters say it may be a while before the Inland Northwest sees clear, blue skies again.

Kyle Miller / Red Cross

Washington state's Department of Health has shipped more than 20,000 face masks to central Washington towns blanketed by wildfire smoke. Air pollution monitors in Wenatchee, Ellensburg and nearby towns are consistently showing the air is hazardous to breathe.