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Wildfire smoke keeps pouring into Western Montana

Posted at 3:19 PM, Aug 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-24 17:32:58-04

MISSOULA – Smoke from Thursday evening hung around all night and much of Western Montana woke up to smoky skies on Friday.

Conditions have been holding steady at Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups in most of Missoula County with Seeley Lake generally keeping to the upper edges of Moderate, according to Sarah Coefield with the Missoula City-County Health Department.

Coefield added that “cloud cover made this morning particularly dismal, but despite appearances, we haven’t tipped into Unhealthy air quality quite yet.”

When air quality is Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups, people with heart or lung disease, children and the elderly should limit prolonged outdoor exertion. Anyone experiencing symptoms of heart or lung disease associated with smoke exposure should contact their healthcare provider.

The overhead winds are expected to shift on Friday providing some relief, but our area remains downwind of the fires in Washington and British Columbia. Coefield notes that any relief from our wildfire smoke will be short-lived with the overhead winds expected to deliver that smoke for at least the next few days.

Readings from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality showed “Unhealthy” air quality in Libby and the Flathead Valley on Friday morning. The air quality was listed as “Unhealthy for Sensitive groups in Frenchtown, Hamilton, Missoula and Thompson Falls.

Click here to view the latest air quality readings from across Montana.

The recommendations for outdoor activity based on air quality is as follows:

  • Good: No restrictions.
  • Moderate: Sensitive people should consider reducing prolonged or heavy exertion.
  • Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups: People with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children should limit prolonged exertion.
  • Unhealthy: People with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly, and children should avoid any outdoor activity; everyone else should avoid prolonged exertion.
  • Hazardous: Everyone should avoid any outdoor exertion; people with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly, and children should remain indoors.

When the air quality is anything other than good, watch for symptoms such as coughing or shortness of breath and reduce exertion.