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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.

Confirmed Cases: 9930

Reported Deaths: 213
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah241769
Marion161047
Washington153420
Clackamas82125
Umatilla7166
Union3551
Lincoln3463
Deschutes2110
Lane2083
Malheur1911
Polk15912
Linn1579
Jackson1470
Jefferson1320
Yamhill1328
Klamath1301
Benton935
Morrow931
Hood River880
Wasco881
Josephine521
Clatsop510
Douglas460
Coos420
Columbia360
Lake210
Tillamook140
Crook120
Wallowa100
Curry80
Baker50
Sherman20
Gilliam10
Grant10
Harney10
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 252895

Reported Deaths: 6334
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles1078263457
Riverside19450479
Orange16191363
San Diego15696387
San Bernardino13676269
Imperial7039114
Alameda6556140
Fresno585177
Kern513081
Santa Clara5077160
Tulare4627136
San Joaquin447455
Sacramento400469
San Francisco377650
Contra Costa356481
San Mateo3536108
Santa Barbara326129
Ventura324047
Marin271921
Kings260032
Stanislaus253144
Monterey191515
Solano147625
Sonoma135911
Merced127211
Placer82811
San Luis Obispo7012
Yolo61325
Madera5785
Santa Cruz4553
Napa3764
San Benito2652
Sutter2433
Lassen2420
El Dorado2260
Butte2063
Shasta1484
Humboldt1444
Nevada1291
Glenn1220
Yuba1061
Tehama881
Lake870
Mendocino850
Colusa700
Del Norte581
Calaveras530
Mono451
Tuolumne430
Inyo331
Amador310
Siskiyou310
Mariposa271
Plumas110
Alpine20
Trinity20
Sierra10
Unassigned00
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Brookings
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