It’s here. Early.

Missoula’s summer wildfire smoke season has arrived early.

Missoula County Air Quality Specialist Sarah Coefield has details.

“We've had some smoke drift into our area from some fires that popped up in southwestern Washington and Idaho,” said Coefield. “A little bit west of Mineral County,” she said. The Idaho fires really started going just yesterday and we had some breezes that picked up the smoke and delivered it into our area. You probably noticed that last night. It was getting kind of grim. And we did see some of that smoke settle down into our valleys and particularly in Frenchtown in and then in Seeley Lake this morning where conditions were raised to Unhealthy for Sensitive Group levels.”

Coefield told KGVO News that this is the earliest smoke update she’s ever produced.

“We entered our fire season pretty early compared to previous years,” she said. “I think this is the earliest I've ever needed to do a wildfire smoke update, but those fires have already kicked off and they’re sending smoke in our direction. You know, the kind of good news here is they're still kind of far away, which means this smoke that we see will be generally intermittent and just driven by the winds. Right now the wind direction is sending us smoke from those fires.”

Coefield is reminding Missoula County residents to prepare safe spaces in their homes away from the smoke.

“It’s an early start to our fire season and I certainly hope that folks are primed and ready to start creating ways to make those cleaner indoor air spaces so you have a safe place to get away from the smoke,” she said.

Keep an eye out for a special program from the Missoula City County Health Department on how to create a ‘smoke-free’ area.

“Well, we are going to be putting out a lot of information about how to prepare for wildfire smoke,” she said. “Starting next week, which is Missoula County's very first Wildfire Smoke Ready Week, we will put out a lot of information about how to create clean indoor air spaces in your homes and businesses, and some considerations for getting through what could be kind of a long haul during this smoke season.”

The Missoula County Commissioners proclaimed July 12 through 18 as Wildfire Smoke Ready Week, and the City of Missoula will make a similar proclamation at their July 12 Council meeting.


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