MISSOULA, Mont. -

The following press release is from Missoula County:

As of 9 AM Friday, the cumulative air quality in the Missoula Valley is Unhealthy. Smoke poured into the Missoula area from the Bitterroot Valley yesterday and will likely stick around for the immediate future. Any breezes we see this afternoon will be from the south and will only deliver more smoke to our area.

Conditions deteriorate as you go south into the Bitterroot Valley. Air quality in the Bitterroot is Very Unhealthy and is nearing Hazardous conditions near the Sawtooth fire.

The Sawtooth fire west of Hamilton will likely continue to be a significant source of smoke for the Bitterroot and Missoula valleys. In addition, smoke from Idaho fires (the Powell SBW, Mustang, McGuire and Sheep complexes), is still a threat to our air quality. The National Weather Service is predicting critical fire weather conditions, which means the regional wildfires may see more activity today and we may see more smoke.

Today and tomorrow will likely be quite smoky. We may get a break Saturday night if predicted northwest winds arrive. Until that happens, however, our best chance at a break from the smoke will be a brief heat out late this afternoon, which may temporarily lift some of the smoke up out of our breathing space.

For the most current information on particulate air pollution levels throughout the state, access Montana’s "Today's Air" web site.

If you are concerned about air quality in your vicinity, and you are not near one of Missoula County's air pollution monitors (located at Boyd Park in Missoula, Frenchtown and Seeley Lake), you can use visibility guidelines to gauge local air quality. Visibility guidelines are also useful for making decisions about outdoor sporting events. Here is a document with decision making recommendations that coaches and parents can use to determine appropriate activity levels. As always, individuals should use common sense and be aware of their own reactions to the smoke.