Latest: Oregon fire marshal replaced amid wildfires

The Latest on wildfires in the U.S. West (all times local):

10:30 a.m.

SALEM, Ore. — Oregon’s state fire marshal has been placed on paid administrative leave in the midst of devastating wildfires.

State Police Superintendent Travis Hampton made the announcement in a news release Saturday, saying the “unprecedented crisis” demanded an urgent response — and that necessitated a leadership change.

Fire Marshal Jim Walker was placed on leave and replaced on an acting basis by Mariana Ruiz-Temple, the chief deputy state fire marshal.

Walker had served as the fire marshal since 2014.

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9:35 a.m.

SALEM, Ore. — Oregon officials are urging employers to stop or delay outdoor work, including construction and harvesting, with wildfire smoke blanketing the region.

The Pacific Northwest continues to have some of the world’s unhealthiest air from fires raging in California, Washington and Oregon.

The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Oregon Health Authority say employers must take reasonable steps to protect workers when air quality becomes unhealthy. That can include halting outdoor work, letting workers with underlying health conditions stay home, and providing N95 masks, as the masks many workers have worn to guard against COVID do not protect against smoke particles.

“During this incredibly challenging and evolving emergency, we are encouraging employers—particularly those with outdoor operations—to take all reasonable and necessary precautions and steps to ensure the safety of their employees,” Oregon OSHA administrator Michael Wood said in a news release.

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