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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: 65170

Reported Deaths: 820
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah14988210
Washington881596
Marion8321127
Clackamas535376
Umatilla409948
Lane382037
Jackson335623
Malheur230839
Deschutes191114
Yamhill156516
Linn126018
Polk105115
Douglas80415
Jefferson76511
Benton7097
Union6912
Klamath6854
Morrow6197
Lincoln56313
Wasco47218
Josephine4314
Columbia4223
Coos3831
Hood River3611
Clatsop3330
Baker2573
Crook1906
Grant1221
Tillamook1110
Curry1052
Lake980
Harney861
Wallowa702
Sherman230
Gilliam210
Wheeler20
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1114524

Reported Deaths: 18726
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles3645207438
San Bernardino845311129
Riverside806761400
San Diego71648968
Orange696941554
Kern38316445
Fresno35973471
Sacramento33133546
Santa Clara30676463
Alameda27485499
San Joaquin24649503
Contra Costa22412258
Stanislaus20370416
Tulare19752303
Ventura18040174
Imperial15053353
San Francisco14445158
Monterey13886113
San Mateo13203169
Sonoma11428155
Merced10986176
Santa Barbara10922133
Kings1003886
Solano934980
Marin7518128
Placer577867
Madera571480
San Luis Obispo561835
Yolo419975
Shasta409542
Santa Cruz389827
Butte366459
Napa275717
Sutter263813
El Dorado19304
San Benito174115
Yuba173210
Lassen14803
Tehama143523
Mendocino138522
Nevada10189
Lake83218
Glenn8296
Humboldt7309
Tuolumne7088
Colusa6426
Mono4993
Siskiyou4951
Amador45016
Calaveras43421
Inyo28316
Del Norte2731
Plumas1770
Trinity1130
Modoc1110
Mariposa1042
Alpine420
Sierra170
Unassigned00
Medford
Overcast
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Hi: 48° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 44°
Brookings
Clear
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Hi: 53° Lo: 41°
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Crater Lake
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Grants Pass
Overcast
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Hi: 48° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 43°
Klamath Falls
Clear
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Hi: 44° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 29°
Rain & snow arrive later Tuesday
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