When will the smoke clear out? Record heat wave, poor air quality take toll on Oregon

A smoky sunset in Springfield via

EUGENE, Ore. - You've got to admit: It's getting better.

"The hottest part of this heat wave is over," the National Weather Service in Portland said. "However, it will still be hot enough today for heat related illnesses to occur, especially considering the cumulative effects of several days of hot weather."

What. A. Week.

Oregonians bracing for a record-setting heat wave this week found themselves choking on smoke as the hot, dry weather fanned forest fires raging out of control on Mount Jefferson and elsewhere.

Air quality in Eugene/Springfield repeatedly hit the Unhealthy range due to smoke from fires.

Meanwhile, the Eugene Airport set new records high temperatures Wednesday (101, beating 99 set in 1939) and Thursday (102, besting 100 set in 1993).

That left residents without air conditioned homes to decide: Swelter in the heat? Or open the windows - and allow the smoke inside your home?

Western Oregon remains under an Air Quality Alert through Tuesday.

"Wildfires burning in the region combined with forecasted conditions will cause air quality to reach unhealthy levels due to smoke and ozone at times through Tuesday evening," the state's air quality agencies said in a statement.

But temperatures will begin to moderate to less extreme levels.

The excessive heat warning that had been in effect was downgraded to a heat advisory, the National Weather Service said.

Cooler temperatures may also help firefighters battling the Whitewater Fire on the Willamette National Forest and twin conflagrations near Crater Lake.

Forecasters cautioned that temperatures will remain above normal next week, with daytime highs in the 90s.

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