Wondering why your lungs burn and eyes itch?
While the second juniper bloom is around the concern, it's a small handful of forest fires that are to blame for the burning, hacking and itching sensations you've no doubt experienced over the last couple of days. The smokey haze is especially evident in south and west Bend.
The closest fire (called "incident #440), a 70-acre burn 3 miles south of Bend, was reported yesterday. Because the fire is consuming an island of pondersa pine that is surrounded by lava flows, firefighters are confident it will be quickly suppressed. The cause is unknown.
The Elk Lake fire, which burned four miles west of Madras, was declared "contained" yesterday at 9pm.
Yet another fire, the Free Bridge II, is burning along the Lower Deschutes River at river-mile 6. The fire has burned 1,500 acres, but was 80-percent contained as of last night and the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center reports that all nearby campgrounds will remain open.
And on the horizon is a lightening storm expected to sweep through Central Oregon today and through the evening. Firefighters already have their boots on and are prepared to respond to any new starts.