Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Mon, August 27 2012 at 4:09 PM, Updated: Mon, August 27 2012 at 4:20 PM
Smoky skies are causing 'unhealthy' conditions in the Klamath Falls area...
Oregon Department of Forestry dispatch coordinator Jake Barnett has been busy with calls about smoke at the Klamath Falls Interagency Fire Center...
"The smoke that impacting us at the time is coming out of Northern California. With the winds, it's pushing it basically right into the basin."
As of 11 this morning, the air quality index for Klamath Falls was at 156. Frank Messina of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality reports 156 is in the 'unhealthy' range...
"It is unhealthy for people who have compromised respiratory systems, children and elderly folks, and people with asthma."
The thick smoke is also having an impact on the healthy.
"A little bit - I don't really want to go outside." Notes Renee Towon of Klamath Falls. "I just had to do it today."
Jake Barnett notes that the forecast isn't calling for any major changes...
"We're looking at maybe a slight improvement going into tomorrow. We should hopefully see an improvement going into Wednesday."
But with fires burning on all sides of the Klamath basin, Barnett notes that a wind shift might just bring in different smoke. "The way the winds are blowing right now, we're going to be seeing a lot of smoke for some time."
A 'Fire Weather Watch' is also currently in place for the Klamath basin. That designation is prompted by dry conditions, warm temperatures, and gusty winds. The public is advised to use extreme caution out in the woods.
KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's. He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.
Lyle's job history is quite colorful. He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand. A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer. In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.
Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience. "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain. Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".
When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.