Bad air forces closures, cancellations

Boaters, hikers, ballplayers — even theater and concert patrons — are being sidetracked by smoke from numerous fires burning around Southern Oregon.

The thick smoke lingering over the valley forced the cancellation of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's outdoor productions of "Cymbeline" Tuesday and "The Heart of Robin Hood" Wednesday on the Elizabethan Stage.

OSF said it will make decisions about outdoor shows on a day-to-day basis, dependent on air quality. Performances in the Angus Bowmer and Thomas theaters will continue as scheduled. Find details at

Tonight's Ashland City Band performance at the Butler Band Shell in Lithia Park was canceled as well. Parks officials will decide by 2 p.m. today whether to cancel afternoon swim lessons at Daniel Meyer Pool.

Britt Festivals said its Classical Festival will open Friday as planned. The 90-piece Britt Orchestra moved into Jacksonville Elementary School's auditorium for rehearsals Wednesday because of the smoky conditions.

"Rain or shine — or smoke — we're going on, absolutely," said Britt Executive Director Donna Briggs. "The show goes on."

The Bureau of Land Management closed the Rogue River's wild section and the Rogue River Trail that parallels the section's north bank, because of thick smoke from the triple-fire Big Windy Complex burning 25 miles northwest of Grants Pass. The complex's Big Windy, Calvert Peak and Jenny Creek fires had burned more than 2,900 acres as of Wednesday, according to the national Fire Incident Information System.

Medford airport officials said the smoke has not hindered flight traffic. Airport Director Bern Case said visibility was at about 3,000 feet Wednesday afternoon. Visibility starts to get worrisome at about 1,800 feet, he said.

"The commercial flights are doing OK, visibility's good enough for them," he said.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or

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