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Smoke lingers on highways, hampering visibility following controlled burn near Chemult

The U.S. Forest Service says there will be limited visibility on highways near Chemult for the next 24 to 48 hours due to smoke from a controlled burn in the area.

Posted: Jun 11, 2019 10:20 AM
Updated: Jun 11, 2019 3:05 PM

CHEMULT, Ore. -- The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) says there will be limited visibility on highways near Chemult for the next 24 to 48 hours due to smoke from a controlled burn in the area. This is affecting roads near the border of the Umpqua National Forest and the Fremont-Winema National Forest.

"This morning there were smoke impacts observed on Highway 138 between U.S. Highway 97 and just east of the north entrance to Crater Lake National Park, near the boundary of the Fremont-Winema and Umpqua National Forests. Visibility is currently approximately a half mile in this area," the agency said in a statement.

USFS warned that drivers need to be aware, slow down, and use headlights in the area. Smoke could impact the Chiloquin and Sprague River areas. 

The prescribed burn happened on Monday night as crews set fire to about 360 acres in the Chemult Ranger District, south of Hwy 138 and west of Diamond Lake Junction. The original goal was to burn 500 acres, but USFS said that no other burns are planned in the area.

"The forest in this area is old growth ponderosa pine, a forest type that needs moderate fire to maintain forest health," the agency said. "The area of the RAC and Boundary prescribed fires are part of ponderosa pine restoration areas and are in proximity of the treated areas on the Forest that were used to help contain last summer’s Timber Crater 6 Fire."

According to USFS, prescribed burns may look different depending on the area. Residents and visitors might notice smoke or visible flames, but these areas should be well-marked and may have a increase in fire personnel and traffic.

"Firefighter and public safety are the highest priorities. The public is asked to be aware of their surroundings, use caution and watch for smoke. Those who are sensitive to smoke are encouraged to be aware of current conditions," USFS said.

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