Ore. wildfires produce unhealthy smoke in Willamette Valley, smoke seen in central Oregon too

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OAKRIDGE, Oregon — Wildfires burning in Oregon's Willamette National Forest have sparked spot fires and sent up smoke that produced unhealthy air quality in eastern Lane County in the Willamette Valley. Smoke from the fires was reported in central Oregon as well.

Smoke was expected to be an issue again Thursday.

Fire spokesman Mike Waite said he and others at the Middle Fork Ranger District compound in the Westfir area were briefly evacuated Wednesday during intense fire activity. He says the main Deception Complex fires have grown but he didn't immediately have a new size estimate.

Willamette National Forest spokeswoman Jude McHugh said Wednesday night that crews had successfully attacked spot fires in a mobile home park, at the ranger district compound and on several nearby roads.

Waite says an air inversion Wednesday morning kept smoke from dissipating. Lane County Health & Human Services spokesman Jason Davis says smoke from the fires caused the air quality index to reach the red "unhealthy" range in Oakridge while the Eugene-Springfield area was reported in the "moderate" range.

The fire complex that started Aug. 12 has burned across more than 1.3 square miles. Earlier Wednesday it was reported 53 percent contained.

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