National Weather Service says region could get a break by the weekend, but air quality could diminish by Thursday evening

COURTESY PHOTO: NASA - A NASA photo taken Wednesday, Aug. 8, shows Southern Oregon wildfires from space. Smoke from the fires is drifting into the Portland area and could become unhealthy for some by late Thursday.The Platters were right. Smoke does get in your eyes, especially if you're in the Portland area and a gathering haze from a half-dozen wildfires in Southern Oregon blows northward.

Most Portland-area residents might see a thicker wildfire smoke haze Thursday afternoon and evening because of wind pushing smoke up the Willamette Valley.

Oregon's Department of Environmental Quality air quality index shows moderate haze for most of the afternoon, but it could shift by late afternoon and the evening to heavier haze that is unsafe for the elderly, children and people with respiratory problems.

National Weather Service meteorologists say the hot, dry conditions will continue throughout the area Thursday, but a low-pressure system could bring some relief from the heat (and possible rain) on Friday and Saturday.

Two of the largest fires, Taylor Creek and Miles, have so far covered nearly 90,000 acres and are only about 40 percent contained. The Taylor Creek fire began in mid-July by a lightning strike near Grants Pass. It has covered 42,996 acres. The Miles fire (a combined fire west of Crater Lake in Douglas and Jackson counties) also was started by lightning in mid-July. It has burned about 42,179 acres.

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