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.

Smoke Creating Vicious Cycle In Northwest Skies

Sep 24, 2012
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.

Vladimir Steblina / USDA Forest Service

In central Washington, fire commanders report progress securing fire lines and limiting the spread of wildfires in the direction of threatened homes. But smoky air continues to stress thousands of people in Wenatchee, Cashmere, Entiat and Chelan.

Vladimir Steblina / USDA Forest Service

The wildfire situation in central Washington continues to worsen. A complex of lightning-sparked fires north of Ellensburg has grown to more than 30,000 acres. Mandatory evacuations are in place near Liberty, Wash., along Highway 97.

Vladimir Steblina / USDA Forest Service

A tree faller assigned to a wildfire burning north of Wenatchee has died. The U.S. Forest Service says the man became ill Monday afternoon from an unspecified cause. He was transported to a hospital where he later died.

Residents Report Central Washington Smells Like Smoke

Sep 13, 2012
Photo by user Teresia / Flickr

The smell of smoke hangs in the air across much of central Washington Wednesday. At least four significant wildfires are burning around Wenatchee, making the skies hazy. Vicky Cibcki works at the Anjou Bakery near the town of Cashmere.

Two fires in Central Washington state near the resort town of Wenatchee have merged together. Firefighters are struggling to get the blaze contained.

VASHON ISLAND, Wash. - More than a century after the discovery of electricity, billions -- yes, billions -- of people still heat and cook with wood fires. In the developing world, indoor air pollution from smoke is blamed for nearly 2 million deaths per year.

We're focusing on the dangers of wood smoke as part of a public media collaboration with Investigate West and Seattle TV station KCTS. Correspondent Tom Banse reports on how the Northwest became home to a cluster of non-profits that aim to sell millions of cleaner-burning cook stoves to the world's poor.