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Wildfire smoke equivalent to a pack of cigarettes a day. Sen. Wyden wants to reimburse ‘smoke refugees’ forced to flee

refugeesThis summer’s fires created many ‘smoke refugees,’ residents who had to flee their homes because smoke levels were unhealthy. These displaced residents were forced to pay for temporary lodging, such as hotels.

As reported by the Ashland Daily Tidings, Sen. Ron Wyden has introduced the Clean Air Refugee Assistance Act in response. The bill would allow people to apply for relief through an existing Federal Emergency Management Agency program that covers temporary lodging for people who can’t immediately return home after a disaster.

“We’ve had days this summer that were the equivalent of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day,” Jackson County Health Director, Dr. Jim Shames, told the local paper.

“Something’s got to be done when young people and senior citizens are afraid of opening the front door because they think they’ll be engulfed with smoke and dirty air,” Wyden said in a statement.

Meanwhile, over the weekend Oregon’s largest wildfire continued to grow due to warm and dry conditions, and Gov. Kate Brown declared the Hugo Road Fire near Grants Pass a conflagration. If conditions continue it could result in many more refugees as we enter the fall season. Here’s a quick update on Oregon’s fire news:

“We’ve had days this summer that were the equivalent of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day”
Klondike Fire

Labor Day weekend brought warm and dry conditions that resulted in a growth by about 3,000 acres in 24 hours for the Klondike Fire. The fire is burning around the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, where many of Oregon’s largest fires have started. It reached portions of Indigo Creek by Monday, a scenic tributary of the Illinois River.

Conditions are currently not safe to have firefighters on the ground, according to fire spokesman Justin Haynes.

Terwilliger Fire

East of Eugene, the Terwilliger Fire expanded past 9,000 acres during the weekend. The fire is 29 percent contained, and is expected to burn until autumn rains. Fire teams are working on building a containment around the wildfire using controlled burns.

Hugo Road Fire

On Monday morning, Oregon’s governor declared the Hugo Road Fire near Grants Pass a conflagration. This allows the State Fire Marshal to dispatch additional firefighters and equipment, a declaration only used for fires that involve or threaten life and structures. The fire was first reported Sunday evening in Hugo, 10 miles northwest of Grants Pass.

On Monday it had reached nearly 200 acres, but fire crews were able to make significant progress by the end of the day. As of Tuesday the fire was 45 percent contained. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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