ROSEBURG, Ore. -- Air quality for Roseburg worsened from very unhealthy to hazardous Thursday afternoon.
The drop to hazardous, which happened at about 3 p.m., means the air quality index (AQI) is more than 300 fine particulate matter.
According to experts, long exposure to these conditions pose serious health threats including the possibility of permanent lung damage and increased chance of developing respiratory illnesses like asthma.
Jesse Beahm, who works in Roseburg, said he's been wearing a mask outdoors to protect himself. He said the smoke has made him feel physically sick.
“Headache, sinuses, it’s actually in my lungs a little bit too. Gives me a little bit of shortness of breath sometimes. Slight cold, sort of slight cough,” Beahm said.
Experts are advising people to stay indoors with the windows and doors shut, but if people must go outdoors, they strongly advise wearing an N95 or KN95 face mask to protect against harmful smoke particles.
The smoke is expected to linger until either late Sunday or early Monday, experts said.
Sam Pelle traveled from Spokane, Washington, to spend time camping in the area but was caught off guard by the significant amount of smoke filling the air.
"[We] woke up this morning and it smelled like campfire in our tent, so we thought if it’s going to be bad enough, probably cut our plans short and head to the coast," Pelle said. "But luckily, it was a little clearer yesterday and we got our good pictures at Crater Lake and had some good camping, but today it’s a lot worse.”
The smoke is also harmful to animals as well. Dawn Stayberg-Luna is one of the co-founders of For the Love of Paws, a nonprofit veterinary clinic in Roseburg.
"You don’t want them out in it just as much as we probably shouldn’t be in it with the poor quality right now," Stayberg-Luna said. "So you want to go ahead and stay indoors.”
Several fires are burning in Douglas County right now, including the Jack Fire, Rough Patch Complex, Skyline Ridge Complex, and Devil's Knob Complex.