The following is a press release from the Missoula City-County Health Department:
As of 4 p.m. Friday, air quality in Missoula, Frenchtown and Seeley Lake is Good to Moderate. Today's warm temperatures did a nice job keeping smoke up and out of our breathing space.
However, despite relatively low particulate concentrations, you can smell the smoke in the in air, and there's a smudgy haze on the horizon. The West Mullan fire is still actively burning and growing near Superior. The fire doubled in size yesterday and will likely continue to be a player in Missoula's smoky situation.
The Gold Creek fire is also still burning north of Missoula, and it has sent some smoke to the Seeley Lake area.
We also have a new contender that flared up in Idaho yesterday: the California Point fire is burning in the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness, and has already sent smoke into the Bitterroot. We will likely continue to see more smoke from the California Point fire for many days to come. The fire is being monitored, but due to its remote location and the very dry conditions, it will likely burn unchecked for the near future.
If the smoke behaves at all like the Idaho fires did last year, we will all become very familiar with Idaho smoke.
Late afternoon/evening is still the most likely time we will see smoke from these fires. The West Mullan smoke is headed straight for us, today, but it should stay overhead until temperatures cool. Likewise, the California Point fire has likely spent the day building up a column of smoke that will eventually move over the Bitterroot and/or Missoula valleys and fall into our breathing space as temperatures cool.
If smoke does reenter the valley, local conditions may become Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups. Residents should monitor their reactions to the smoke and limit exposure/physical exertion if they are sensitive to the smoky conditions.