Forest fires force many school athletic activities inside for now
Wednesday, September 6, 2017
The Eagle Creek fire in the Columbia River Gorge sends smoke and ash into the Willamette Valley. (Photo by U.S. Forest Service)
The haze hanging over most of Oregon from forest fires continues to affect school sports plans, but some relief is in sight – at least for part of the state.
The Oregon School Activities Association recommends all contests or practices be moved inside when air quality is in the “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” or worse range. Nearly every monitoring station in the state registers air quality somewhere between “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” and “Hazardous.”
OSAA suggests schools can also use the 5-3-1 Visibility Index to make decisions. If objects 5 miles away cannot be seen, air quality is “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups.”
Oregon Health Authority guidelines permit light outdoor activity when air quality is “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups,” but OSAA does not consider sports as light activity. OSAA has prepared a chart of various methods of checking air quality and the required actions.
Westerly winds should begin to clear out the Willamette Valley in the next 48 hours, according to DEQ spokesman Greg Svelund.
“Central and southern Oregon will probably get worse before they get better because of that same push,” said Svelund. The Chetco Bar fire in southern Oregon will create unhealthy air for at least another week, he said.