Smoke hinders aerial support but helps with temperatures

GOLD HILL, Ore. — Smoke from wildfires in the area is helping to keep temperatures down but its also making it difficult for crews to get aerial support.

It’s a two fold, on one hand the smoke actually helps fire crews but on the other hand, it can cause difficulties that Oregon Department of Forestry fire crews haven’t had to face with other fires this season.

The Ramsey Canyon fire started two days ago in Sams Valley and fire crews are facing challenges they haven’t this summer.

“It’s very difficult with the smoke, we would like to have air tankers on it but all the air bases were smoked in yesterday, we couldn’t get the planes off the ground,” Joe Touchstone, PIO for Oregon Department of Forestry, said.

Helicopters have still been able to provide support to the fires however air tankers haven’t been able to. Touchstone says helicopters aren’t as effective as air tankers are.

“They’re still taking longer than they normally do because they have to slow down and make sure they’re not hitting any obstacles, and can hit the areas that they’re being directed to,” Touchstone said.

Crews had difficulty getting help from air tankers on Thursday and even into Friday but late Friday afternoon after the smoke had cleared, tankers were able to take off.

The smoke isn’t all bad though. While it’s caused problems from above, its helped crews down below.

“We’re lucky with the smoke and the cooler temperatures and the higher humidity,” Touchstone said. “Fire activity is less than it would be normally this time of year so it’s allowing us to be more aggressive and direct attack than we normally could.”

The fire has been deemed human caused but how it started is still under investigation.


Blakely McHugh is co-anchor of NBC5 News at Sunrise and spokesperson for In This Together, a suicide prevention initiative. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Blakely is a native of San Diego, CA. Blakely is excited to be in southern Oregon, a place that gets all the seasons and has similar temperatures to Arizona in the summer! When she’s not at work, you can find her relaxing at home watching TV and cuddling with her cat, Dallas. She also enjoys trying new places to eat and exploring the outdoors. Blakely loves meeting new people so if you see her out and about, say “hi!”
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