Smoke from wildfires impacts air quality across California and Oregon, advisories issued

Three smoke plumes from the McKinney Fire are seen Saturday morning, July 30, 2022, from a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection outdoor camera called Antelope Mt./Yreka. The camera is south of Yreka and overlooks forested areas to the north and just west of the city. The fast-moving McKinney Fire broke out on Friday, July 29, forcing residents in the Horse Creek area and elsewhere to evacuate.

Smoke from the McKinney Fire has begun to blanket northern California and the southwest corner of Oregon and is forecasted to worsen and continue moving up the state over the next several days, according to weather officials.

By late Sunday afternoon, Yreka clocked in with the highest hazardous air quality on at 233 AQI, with Fort Jones in second at 172 per the California Air Quality Index. Happy Camp, further west, was marked as unhealthy at 166.

Communities further away from the McKinney Fire had slightly better conditions. Redding, south of the fire, had more moderate AQIs ranging from 30-50 in the area.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued an air quality advisory for both Jackson and Klamath counties in southwest Oregon due to smoke from the McKinney fire on Sunday afternoon. The advisory is expected to last at least until Friday, Aug. 5.

No air quality advisories had been issued for California counties as of Sunday afternoon.

Klamath County’s air quality was marked 75, or moderate, and Jackson County at a higher 152, or unhealthy. Smokey and hazy conditions can be expected across the state, especially in southern Oregon.

Wildfire smoke can irritate the lungs and eyes of everyone, as well as worsen medical conditions, and is particularly harmful for children, older adults, those with lung disease and pregnant individuals. When smoke levels are high, stay inside, avoid strenuous activities and use portable air purifiers or HEPA filters when possible, said a DEQ release.

The AQI, or air quality index, marks the level of pollutants in the air and what impact it has on your health. Zero to 50 signifies “good” conditions, 151 to 200 is “unhealthy” and anything above 301 is “hazardous” according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

An interactive map with the AQI for California can be found at

An interactive map with the AQI for Oregon can be found at

Skyla Patton is an outdoor reporter and multimedia storyteller. She can be reached at and on Twitter @ganjajournalist.

This article originally appeared on Salem Statesman Journal: Wildfire smoke impacts AQI, hazardous conditions near McKinney Fire