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Convention center, community centers helping homeless stay indoors, away from hazardous air

Those on the street have yet another threat to watch: wildfire smoke. Shelters are now opening, and KN-95 masks are available.

PORTLAND, Oregon — Joseph Patridge said he noticed the air quality while walking around Portland.

“Sometimes a little lightheaded, with all the smoke that’s in the air, it’s kind of everywhere, it’s suffocating,” Patridge said.

Patridge lives on the streets and faces a new threat: Wildfire smoke.

“The air quality has turned hazardous for many us in the metro area," said Dr. Sarah Present with Clackamas County Health. "We are recommending that you avoid going outside. Stay inside, keep your doors and windows closed, keep your indoor air as clean as you can”

The smoke in the sky over downtown Portland has turned noon into dusk and for many who walk the streets, they’re unaware of the danger inhaling that smoke presents.

The Blanchet House is now giving out KN-95 masks to help.

“I come out during lunch and dinner, and I just try to engage and let people know that I’m here for support and help,” said Nathaniel Wright, a  former guest at the Blanchet House. He's helping spread the word about the masks and estimates he’s talked to at least 200 people since Thursday about the importance of wearing masks now.

Scott Kermman, Executive Director at Blanchet House, said, “We recently picked up a lot of donations of KN-95 masks like this one here. These are the best masks to keep people save from all the smoke particles in the air.”

Patridge gets free meals at the Blanchet house. On Friday, he picked up a packet of KN-95 masks, but he's not keeping them for himself.

“I decided to take one and take it back to the shelter so I gave it to them so they could distribute it to other people, with everything going on we all need help.”

The Oregon Convention Center is taking in people without homes. The Joint Office of Homeless Services says if you or someone you know needs shelter, call 2-1-1 to confirm a space, and arrange a ride.

On Friday afternoon, The Charles Jordan Community Center and the Mount Scott Community Center announced they will be opening Friday night, with capacity of about 150.

Chris McGinness is a meteorologist and transportation reporter for KGW. Got a story idea or a great photo you want to share? Email him at cmcginness@kgw.com or reach out on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram