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Rogue Valley Smoke Drives Business to the Coast

Although business owners along the southern Oregon coast can't help but feel for their inland neighbors—having seen wildfire devastation before—this year has been a good one for them.

Posted: Aug 20, 2018 6:41 PM

BROOKINGS, Ore. — An extremely active fire season this summer is pushing people in Oregon and Northern California to escape to the coast to get a breath of fresh air. Coastal towns like Brookings are seeing an increase in tourists visiting because of the smoke inland.

“When the fires started it seemed like the pace picked up immediately,” says Howard Jones.

You won’t find Howard Jones complaining about the busy season. The owner of the Sporthaven Marina Bar and Grill knows how quickly that can change. Last year looked a lot different for the town of Brookings. The Chetco fire, which burned more than 191,000 acres, led to a loss in tourism and profits for local businesses.

“Last year the fire was so close that a lot of people cancelled on us. The environment wasn’t that appealing so I’m pretty sure most of the people coast must have felt a pinch,” says Sarju Patel, general manager for the Westward Inn.

Howard Jones says he is sympathetic to what people are going through in areas affected by fires and smoke. His restaurant was almost evacuated last summer and says, “our hearts are open for those who are going through the same things that we went through last year.”

With people coming from areas like Redding and Medford, Brooking residents are noticing heavier traffic along the 101 and even empty shelves at the grocery store.

“Even grocery shopping, the stores are depleted on their shelves, they weren’t expecting the extra people to be coming in to escape the smoke,” says Shacon Ritz, co-owner of Mattie’s Pancake House.

Lodging in the area is another area people are seeing an influx of visitors. Hotels and RV parks have been booked up for weeks, making it difficult for people to find last minute accommodations. As you drive up the 101 highway no vacancy signs are lit up everywhere.

“A lot of no vacancy signs, a lot of people calling ahead of time trying to get their rooms. Sometimes we even get them at nighttime, people trying to get rooms when it’s already filled up,” says Sarju Patel.

Many business owners like Jones are grateful for a busier Summer season. He says he’s also happy his restaurant can serve a place for people to get a break from the smoke and heat.

“This a place you can come to relax just for a minute and kind of let it go,” says Jones.

Many of the businesses expect the high tourism numbers to persist into late September because of the smoke. Visitors are already preparing in advance by making reservations for next year at various lodging sites in Brookings.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 352026

Reported Deaths: 4185
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah55306692
Washington38321316
Marion36352445
Clackamas29350304
Lane27309299
Jackson22783304
Deschutes19886124
Umatilla14286144
Linn12617120
Douglas11918241
Josephine9292195
Yamhill8584111
Klamath7765111
Polk719680
Malheur552774
Benton537630
Coos492593
Columbia375743
Jefferson366351
Union316247
Lincoln313338
Wasco282640
Crook277646
Clatsop240729
Baker199228
Tillamook194929
Hood River190137
Morrow183023
Curry178723
Harney110225
Grant98012
Lake89711
Wallowa67312
Gilliam1494
Sherman1463
Wheeler1031
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 4825708

Reported Deaths: 70829
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles147768626443
Riverside3704095008
San Diego3649124169
San Bernardino3574215597
Orange3234075528
Sacramento1584372283
Fresno1451192063
Santa Clara1450041895
Kern1449141615
Alameda1202831381
San Joaquin1022501721
Ventura1008011165
Contra Costa99612995
Stanislaus856421319
Tulare79513958
San Francisco54220644
San Mateo53970622
Monterey50772583
Solano45898340
Santa Barbara45005522
Merced42047579
Sonoma40822402
Placer39118420
Imperial35794764
Kings32587315
San Luis Obispo29797331
Madera23680281
Butte23649265
Shasta23544341
Santa Cruz20928218
Yolo20240248
Marin17644243
El Dorado17083149
Sutter13847172
Napa12855100
Yuba1000882
Tehama9406107
Humboldt9171108
Nevada909490
Mendocino757686
Lassen749946
San Benito741372
Tuolumne680893
Lake6565104
Amador540364
Siskiyou445842
Glenn433632
Calaveras385180
Del Norte357141
Colusa302818
Inyo203540
Mono16565
Plumas16046
Mariposa130815
Trinity86711
Modoc6758
Unassigned1820
Sierra1810
Alpine1030
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Medford
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