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'Smoke Refugees' escape to Florence for Labor Day

The beach in Cannon Beach, Oregon looked more like a beach in southern California on Wednesday. (KATU Photo)

FLORENCE, Ore. - Labor Day weekend usually means a last hurrah for summer vacationers and campers in Oregon.

Unfortunately, with the extreme fire restrictions in the Willamette Valley and wildfires shutting down many campgrounds, option are limited.

So instead of a weekend in the woods, the Oregon coast was a popular destination among many.

While most of Oregon is bracing for high temperatures and poor air quality from wildfires, places on the coast like Florence have become an oasis for people who call themselves 'smoke refugees.'

“It means that over an extended period of time, we've put up with smoke and high temperatures at home," said Jo McAleavey.

Jo and his wife Joan came to Carl Washburn Memorial State Park from Jacksonville, OR. After waking up to smoky air and ash falling around them, they decided to leave.

“So we went North, North, North and we wound up here," said Jo. “The conditions here are just about perfect - the real challenge is that we aren’t the only ones.”

Camp Host, Ed Madej, says they’ve had to turn many people away today. Not only are they getting the usual campers from the valley, but those from the Brookings area as well.

"We don't get a lot of people leaving from the South Coast and coming here," said Madej.

Whether you’re camping, heading to the ocean or enjoying downtown Florence, “The air feels really clean,” says Hannah Shallace from Eugene.

While you might see many signs that say 'Closed,' Florence Area Chamber of Commerce says not to be discouraged, there's still a good chance you might find some vacancies.

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