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Wildfire Smoke a Concern for Missoula Health Department [AUDIO]

West Mullan Fire
Photo courtesy of Inciweb.org

With wildfires burning both east and west of Missoula, it was inevitable that smoke would settle in the valley. Early Thursday morning the smoke veiled the mountains, but began to dissipate as the weather warmed.

Air quality specialist with the Missoula City County Health Department Sarah Coefield checked areas of the Missoula valley Thursday morning and said the smoke was definitely bad enough to cause problems with certain at-risk groups,

“Around midnight last night, a fairly significant amount of smoke rolled into the Missoula valley, primarily from the West Mullan fire,” Coefield said. “I pulled up smoke imaging modeling last night when I noticed smoke from the Superior fire headed our way. When the temperatures cooled overnight, the smoke came down to the lower elevations.”

Wildfire smoke can be problematic for people with certain health conditions.

“People who are sensitive to smoke like children, or those with heart of lung problems might want to curtail their activities a little bit,” Coefield said. “The smoke has lifted due to the warm temperatures, but it will fall back down to the valley floor when it cools off later tonight. People should really pay attention to how they are feeling and reacting to the smoke and take measures to limit their exposure.”

The National Weather Service said Thursday morning that this high pressure system will be situated over the Missoula valley for the next week or so, and until a weather system moves through the area, the smoke will stay in the valley.

Air Quality Specialist Sarah Coefield

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