Aug 28, 5:22 PM EDT

About 100 in Cascades on wildfire evacuation alert

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- A complex of wildfires in the Cascade Range threatened residences near a mountain town Thursday and made the air unhealthy in a wide region of Oregon.

About 100 residents near the mountain town of Oakridge were on an evacuation alert after fire bosses briefly evacuated a mobile home park and about 60 houses Wednesday night, the Eugene Register-Guard reported ( http://bit.ly/YYJDHW ).

The air quality in Klamath Falls deteriorated Wednesday to a level that's unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as people with asthma, the state Department of Environmental Quality said.

The air was similarly dangerous in Bend, east of the Cascade Range, the agency said, while the air quality was judged as only "moderate" in the Eugene area on the west side. Between the two cities, the air was rated unhealthy at the center of the fire.

Lightning started the first fire two weeks ago, and it combined with two other fires.

The smoke wasn't widely bothersome until the wind shifted Wednesday.

Firefighters hope cooler temperatures expected Friday will help tamp down the fire, but they said that may cause conditions that hold the smoke close to the ground through the Labor Day weekend.

Jerry Shortt, 70, said he and his cousin spent hours watering down his 7-acre property near Oakridge, using sprinklers and hoses as burned leaves rained down.

It was the closest that a wildfire has gotten in the nearly 40 years he's lived on the property, Shortt said. He said his and his cousin's wives packed up their motorhomes in case the evacuation order came.

"We'll have to do what we have to do," Shortt said. "There's nothing else we can do about it."


Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com

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