Missoula air officials monitor air quality as Frenchtown-area fire spreads


MISSOULA, Mont. - The following is a press release from the Missoula City-County Health Department:

Good afternoon,

The wildfire currently burning in Frenchtown put out an impressive plume of smoke this afternoon.  The fire grew quickly and is currently at around 100 acres, headed east.  Residents near the fire and those north and east of the fire are likely being exposed to smoky conditions, and should use visibility guidelines to help determine particulate concentrations and associated health advisories.  Due to the southwesterly breeze currently on the fire, the smoke has not hit our monitors in Frenchtown or Missoula.  You can smell the smoke in Missoula, but it is still staying quite high above our heads.  Air quality in Missoula is currently Good to Moderate.  That may change tonight as temperatures cool.  We can also see a smoky haze on the western and southern horizons thanks to fires burning in Idaho.


Here is this afternoon's web update:

July 25, 2013

As of 4PM Thursday, air quality in Missoula, Frenchtown and Seeley Lake is Good to Moderate. However, this afternoon's fire in Frenchtown is sending considerable amounts of smoke to the northeast.  Evaro, Arlee and the Wye are likely seeing some of the Frenchtown smoke.  You can smell the smoke in Missoula, but it's currently getting a nice lift up and out of our breathing space.  However, as the evening cools down it will likely fall down to the valley floors.  Also, a shift in winds could deliver more of that smoke to Missoula.  Overnight and this morning, we may see conditions that become Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups or worse.  You can also still see smoke on the western and southern horizons courtesy of the fires burning in Idaho. 

There are several fires burning in Idaho across from the Bitterroot Valley, and they will likely send smoke our way as wildfire season continues to play out.  The Gold Pan, Crescendo and Californian Point fires continue to grow.  The Crescendo and California Point fires are smaller, but are sending smoke straight in our direction.  The Gold Pan fire may send smoke into the Bitterroot.  Missoula County typically receives smoke from the Bitterroot, so we'll be keeping an eye on the smoke levels to the south.

Fire danger is currently Very High in Missoula County, and firefighters are busily stomping out small fires that are popping up around the region in addition to the large grass fire in Frenchtown. Residents should be aware that fires will likely continue to pop up, and smoke conditions can change rapidly change with increased fire activity.  

If smoke does reenter the valley, local conditions may become Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups or worse. Residents should monitor their reactions to the smoke and limit exposure/physical exertion if they are sensitive to the smoky conditions.

Because smoke conditions can change rapidly based on location, wind, fire flare ups and proximity to fires, the department encourages individuals to use visibility as a guideline to help gauge air quality at a given time and place and take appropriate precautions. 

This morning's satellite photo shows fires actively burning in Idaho and sending smoke our direction.

This web page is not updated on weekends or holidays unless air quality becomes Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups or worse.  Call the air quality hotline at 258-3600 on weekends to get the most current air quality update.


Sarah Coefield, M.S., M.A.

Air Quality Specialist

Missoula City-County Health Department

301 W. Alder

Missoula, MT 59802

Phone (406) 258-3642


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