Wildfire & Smoke

Wildfires and severe smoke can create dangerous conditions for people, especially those with health conditions. Know when to stay, when to go, how to protect your home, and how to stay healthy.



US Forest Service worker stands at a podium and makes an announcement regarding the Eagle Creek Fire.
Photo credit: Kate Willson, Multnomah County



Wildfires and smoke can move quickly, and conditions can change in the blink of an eye. Know what's happening around you. Visit the Wildfire 2022 page to learn about the current situation. 

  1. Get local alerts. Sign up for PublicAlerts so local emergency managers can send you evacuation alerts, air quality alerts, and other important info. You can also view current alerts to get info about road and school closures, power outages, etc.
  2. Get fire news. Check out InciWeb and the Wildfire and Weather Information Map. Get updates and forecasts by checking out resources in Oregon (Smoke Blog and Department of Forestry) and Washington (Smoke Blog and Department of Natural Resources).
  3. Connect. Use the tips on the Stay Informed page to connect with loved ones and get information about what's happening in your neighborhood.
  4. Be ready to go. Gather Supplies and know what to expect if Evacuation orders are issued. 








Smoke from wildfires is a mixture of gases and fine particles from burning plant materials. Smoke can hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system, and worsen chronic heart and lung diseases.

Those Most at Risk

Follow your doctor’s recommendations and take extra steps to protect yourself.

  1. Infants and children. Familiarize yourself with guidance for parents, as well as state-specific guidance in Oregon (Español, Русский, 中文, Af Soomaali, Vietnamese) and Washington.
  2. Pregnant and nursing people. The CDC provides general disaster-related advice for pregnant and nursing people, as well as information specific to wildfire smoke.  
  3. Older adults and those with medical conditions. People with COVID-19, heart disease, lung heart disease, and diabetes are particularly sensitive to smoke. Work with your doctor to create a plan to stay healthy.  

Learn About the Air

Listen, watch, and pay attention to the Air Quality Index. It provides current info on how clean the air is and potential health risks.

How to Stay Safe

  1. Avoid smoky air and keep indoor air clean. Close doors and windows, close the fresh air intake on your A/C and set it to recirculate, use an air cleaner with a HEPA filter, and/or go to a place with AC if it’s hot and smoky. If you can, create clean room.
  2. Do not add to indoor air pollution. Do not use anything that burns, such as candles, incense, fireplaces, cigarettes, or gas stoves. Avoid frying or broiling when cooking. Do not vacuum.
  3. Do not rely on masks or bandannas for protection. If an N95 respirator is properly worn, it can offer some protection from smoke. However, they are in short supply. Cloth face coverings can help prevent spread of COVID-19, but don’t protect against fine particulates in smoke. Avoid smoke by staying inside. Close windows and doors.
  4. Maintain healthy behaviors. Drink lots of water. Eat balanced meals. Don't smoke. Stretch and move your body indoors, but don't exert yourself too much. Listen to your body and contact a healthcare provider if you are experiencing symptoms of smoke irritation.
  5. Leave if necessary. If your home doesn't feel safe, seek shelter in a designated evacuation center or away from the affected area.  

When to Get Help

If you or someone you know is experiencing a life-threatening emergency, call 9-1-1. Contact your health care provider if you experience symptoms of smoke exposure.

  • Persistent cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing
  • Chest tightness or pain
  • Heart palpitations
  • Nausea or feeling lightheaded
  • Unusual fatigue

More Wildfire & Smoke Health Information



When buildings ignite during a wildfire, it's usually a result of embers or small flames. There are several steps that you can take to reduce the risk to your home or business.

Defend Your Home

Learn what actions you can take to reduce your risk of loss. If you own a home or business, learn how to prepare your home for wildfires (Cómo Preparar Su Casa Contra Incendios Forestales). Maintain defensible space around your home and use fire-resistant materials to harden your home. Last but not least, learn how to prepare for disasters & insurance claims



Understand Evacuation Orders

During an emergency, you may be asked to evacuate (leave your home). You may have hours or just minutes to get out. Pay attention to local alerts, and know what to expect if evacuation orders are issued. If you are evacuating due to wildfire:

  • Cover up to protect against heat and flying embers.
  • Wear long pants, long sleeve shirt, heavy shoes/boots, cap, dry bandanna for face cover, and goggles or glasses.
  • 100% cotton is preferable.





Photo of a sign in the forest. Smokey the Bear is on the left, holding a shovel. The sign says "Fire danger, restrictions in effect today! Prevent wildland fires."

Graphic images with red slashes through them to indicate "do not do this." Images include fireworks, vehicles with poor exhaust systems, cigarettes, shooting guns, driving on dry grass, using sparking tools, floating lanterns, and open flames.

We need everyone to help prevent wildfire. Visit SmokeyBear.com, Keep Oregon Green, and California's Ready for Wildfire website for more information.

Escaped debris burning is the leading cause of human-caused wildfires in our area. 

  • Chip, compost, or haul your debris to a recycling center. 
  • Be aware of local burn bans, and only burn fires if you have a permit. View Oregon and Washington burn ban maps. 
  • Check the weather forecast.
  • Clear a 10-foot radius around your burn pile.
  • Always have fire tools on site. 
  • Always stay by your burn pile, as required by state law. 
  • Never use gasoline.
  • Burn yard debris only.
  • Make sure your burn pile is completely out. Go back and recheck old burn piles. They can retain heat for several weeks or longer and rekindle when the weather warms and winds begin to blow.

Equipment fires are the second leading cause of wildfires. 

  • Clean up excess vegetation in the spring, not in the summer when fuels are dry. 
  • Know if equipment use is restricted. Check with your local forestry department or fire district. 
  • Use gas-powered equipment early in the day when the humidity is higher and temperatures are lower.
  • Use a weed trimmer with plastic line instead of a metal blade.
  • Remove rocks and other objects in the area that can strike a blade, create sparks, and start a wildfire.
  • Keep the exhaust systems in proper working order, spark arresters clear of carbon build-up, and engines free of oil and dust.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher or water-charged hose nearby.

Vehicles can easily create sparks.

  • Only park on gravel or paved surfaces to avoid hot exhaust systems from touching dry grass. 
  • Make sure all parts of your vehicle (such as mufflers  and chains) are secure and not dragging.
  • Keep vehicles serviced regularly. Check tire pressure, wheel bearing lubrication, and brakes. Worn-out brakes can create metal-on-metal contact, which can create sparks.
  • Maintain and clean exhaust systems and spark arrestors.
  • Only operate ATVs on established roads and trails.

Campfires are wonderful - and dangerous. 

  • Be aware of local burn bans, and only burn fires if you have a permit. View Oregon and Washington burn ban maps. 
  • Do not build a fire near your tent, vehicles, shrubs, trees, or low-hanging branches.
  • Clear sticks, dry grass, and other debris around the campfire site.
  • Circle the fire pit with rocks.
  • Store your unused firewood away from the fire. 
  • Keep your campfire small and only burn wood.
  • Stay near the fire at all times.
  • Always have water and a shovel nearby.
  • Before going to sleep or leaving the area, make sure it is completely out. Drown the fire with water, stir the ashes, and then drown it again. 
  • If it's too hot to touch, it's too hot to leave. 

Cigarette butts can smolder for hours before starting a fire.

  • Use deep, sturdy ashtrays.
  • Use water or sand to extinguish cigarette butts and ashes. 
  • Never discard butts on the ground or in vegetation outdoors.

Bullets are extremely hot on impact. Metal jackets can land in dry grasses or other flammable material ignite vegetation.

  • Stop target shooting by 1pm, and stay on site for at least an hour afterward to ensure that no fires have started from shooting activities.
  • Don’t shoot on very hot, dry days.
  • Always shoot into a non-flammable backstop of mineral soil.
  • Be sure your target is clear of flammable debris for 20 feet on all sides.
  • Always have a fire extinguisher or water and shovel ready.
  • Check all backstops and shooting areas for smoke.

If you live next to nature, follow these tips to prevent fires from starting near or spreading to your home.

  • Create a 30-foot defensible space around your home that is free of combustible material. Fire follows fuel. Make sure your landscape is LEAN (plants are spaced apart), CLEAN (free of flammable debris), and GREEN (healthy and watered often).
  • Clean up dead or dying plants, branches, leaves and needles. Remove debris from under decks, stairs, gutters, and roofs. Trim branches that are overhanging roof and within 10 feet of chimneys. 
  • During fire season, move wood piles 30 feet from all buildings.
  • Remove flammable plants and replace with fire-resistant species
  • Prune tree branches to a height of 6-10 feet to remove “ladder fuels.”
  • Cut grass to less than four inches, but do it early in the day when humidity is high and the wind is low. A whirling metal blade can strike a rock and cast sparks.
  • Keep shrubs low and away from the drip line of trees.
  • Keep your driveway clear of debris to allow fire engine access.
  • Visit firewise.org for more information.

Without Warning! Wildfire

The Oregon Office of Emergency Management and Dark Horse Comics have released a new comic book titled, Without Warning! Wildfire. It features characters hiking and camping in a Northwest wilderness area who are forced to flee for their lives to escape a quickly moving wildfire. The comic helps teach readers how to protect themselves, their loved ones and wildlands when wildfires occur. 

Cover of a graphic novel about wildfire by Dark Horse Comics called "Without Warning." English version. Drawing of a feminine and a masculine character on a hike in the woods. They are carrying camping gear and have slight smiles on their faces. Trees in the background. Sky is blue.   

It's important that every Oregonian – including youth – know how to reduce their risk, be ready, and know what to do when disasters occur. Kids and teens who are prepared often experience less anxiety and feel more confident during actual emergencies and disasters.

Without Warning! Wildfire is available for free in English and Spanish at Dark Horse DigitalOEM’s website. It's also available on iOS and Android apps, Kindle, Comixology, Google Play, and Apple Books. Printed copies are available through county emergency management offices, Clackamas Community College, and Keep Oregon Green.

You can get this document in other languages, large print, braille, or a format you prefer. For assistance, call 971-719-1183 or email language@oem.state.or.us. They accept all relay calls, or you can dial 711.




Image of fireworks in the forest. You can see a wildfire starting nearby.


Oregon State Fire Marshal flyer that says "Keep it Safe. Keep it Legal." It provides statistics about injuries, deaths, fires, and losses of the past five years.


Logo for the Veterans Crisis Line. Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1 or visit veteranscrisisline.net

Many cities and counties in the Portland Metro Area banned fireworks in 2021 due to extreme wildfire risk. Violation of these bans can result in heavy fines or jail time. Please respect these bans and consider alternative ways to celebrate, even if your area has not banned them. Here are some reasons why: 

  • Trauma. Fireworks upset babies and toddlers, veterans, animals, and others sensitive to noise. 
  • Fire. Our region is extremely dry right now. You could set your home on fire. You could set your neighbor’s home on fire. You could set a fire that leads to an explosion, wildfire, or other large disasters. The 2017 Eagle Creek Fire that burned nearly 47,000 acres was started by one person with a single firework. 
  • Pollution. Fireworks release chemicals that contaminate the air and water. Cities around the nation are littered for days and weeks after the 4th.   
  • Injury. People get injured and die because of fireworks. They experience hearing loss, blindness, burns, and other injuries. 
  • First Responders: It’s been a tough year. Hospitals and first responders are already overwhelmed. Let’s not add to their problems. 
  • Money. Fireworks are expensive! So are medical bills. And our tax dollars are used to respond to 911 calls and put out fires.

Fireworks are not allowed at any time in national parks and forests, on Bureau of Land Management lands, on U.S. Fish and Wildlife properties, on all Oregon Department of Forestry protected lands, on state beaches, or in state parks and campgrounds.

Be Prepared!

Even if you decide to skip fireworks this year, others may not. Make sure you have a plan to keep your pets safe and comfortable. If you are a veteran needing support, please reach out to the Veteran's Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255. 

Please support local businesses! 

  • Make a donation to a local animal shelter or your favorite charity. 
  • Buy a movie projector so you can host neighborhood movie nights. 
  • Get extra-nice food and drinks for your BBQ. 
  • Hang festive solar lights and other party decorations. 
  • Buy supplies for other types of fun, such as these kid-friendly activities: 
    • Water gun or water balloon fight
    • Slip-and-slide
    • Piñata 
    • Water or stomp rocket
    • Laser or flashlight tag
    • Glow sticks
    • Silly string
    • Bubbles
    • Backyard movie night

If fireworks are allowed in your area, make sure you know how to use them safely and legally. The Oregon State Fire Marshal has answers to your questions. 

Be Prepared:

  • Store fireworks out of children’s reach.
  • Prepare your pets - they are often frightened by fireworks.
  • Always read and follow label directions.
  • Always have water handy (a garden hose or a bucket of water).

Be Responsible:

  • Soak used fireworks thoroughly in a bucket of water before putting them in your garbage bin. Unused fireworks should never be put in garbage or recycling bins. Call 503-234-3000 or visit Metro's website for disposal info. 

Be Safe:

  • Use fireworks outdoors only.
  • Never let children light fireworks or play with matches and lighters.
  • Light only one firework at a time & move away quickly.
  • Do not throw fireworks or hold them in your hand.
  • Never re-light “dud” fireworks. Wait 15-20 minutes, then soak it in a bucket of water.

Be Aware: 

  • Use only legal fireworks in legal places. Check the current firework bans, and never use fireworks at beaches, state parks, or state or federal forest lands.

Used Fireworks

Before tossing used fireworks in the garbage bin, make sure they are soaked in a fireproof bucket with water. Unused fireworks should never be put in garbage or recycling bins. Call 503-234-3000 or visit Metro's website

Unused Fireworks

Unused fireworks should never go in garbage or recycling bins. Store them in a cool dry place away from flammables. 

If you would like to safely dispose of unused fireworks, you can take them to the following locations. No questions will be asked and no personal info will be collected, even if the fireworks are illegal. 

  • Portland: Metro Central transfer station at 6161 NW 61st Ave. (503-234-3000) 
  • Oregon City: Metro South transfer station at 2001 Washington St. (503-234-3000) 
  • Hillsboro: From July 1-30, 8am-4pm Monday through Friday. Ring the doorbell to be greeted by a staff member, and please do NOT leave them at the front door unattended. They must be physically handed to a staff member.  
    • Main Station 1, 240 South 1st Avenue, Hillsboro Oregon, 97123 
    • Ronler Acres Station 3, 4455 NE Century Blvd, Hillsboro, OR 97124