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Valley smoke should clear by Friday

 Posted: 11:20 AM December 05, 2013

A smoky haze from clearing work in the Ashland Watershed isn't expected to stick around for long, fire officials said.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, crews burned brush piles on 250 acres in the Ashland Watershed as part of the ongoing Ashland Forest Resiliency Stewardship Project to reduce the amount of ground fuels that can spur on spreading wildfires. That two-day period made for about 17 percent of total burn acres required before the 2015 fire season.

"I'm thinking it'll be gone by tomorrow with the weather moving in," Ashland Fire & Rescue forest division chief Chris Chambers said of the smoke. "It'll be significantly less by tomorrow, if not totally gone."

During the burning, columns of smoke shot into the sky and a dull gray haze drifted into parts of the Rogue Valley. Weather conditions met smoke management and safety guidelines on both days, Chambers said in a news release.

The burning caused no trail or road closures. Firefighters cautioned against those who are sensitive to smoke hitting the trails, however.

As smoldering decreases and an Arctic front moves into the area, complete with snow, the smoke should fade altogether, fire officials said. Up to 10 inches of snow is expected to fall in the surrounding hillsides in the coming days, which will help extinguish the still-smoldering piles.

For more information on the Forest Resiliency Project, visit www.ashlandwatershed.org.

— Ryan Pfeil


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