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Wildfire, fire management and air quality news for western Montana and the Northern Rockies.

Canada wildfire smoke impairs air quality across Montana

05/18 NOTE: This story has been updated to include current air quality information and input from a meteorologist and the state health department.

Smoke from more than a hundred active wildfires in Canada is spreading throughout Montana and affecting air quality across the state.

Warm May weather kept the smoke from reaching Montana, until a cold front blew in from the northwest and carried it down over the state this week. The smoke had spread across the whole state as of Wednesday afternoon.

Aaron Ofseyer, Air Quality Meteorologist with the Department of Environmental Quality, said the smoke could linger until the weekend.

“Unfortunately it’s going to be sticking around through at least late Thursday. We’ll start to see some improvements by Friday, but I think by Saturday the air will be much, much better,” Ofseyer said.

Air Quality monitoring stations across the state were showing moderate to very unhealthy air quality as of Wednesday afternoon.

BJ Biskupiak, asthma control program manager for the Department of Health and Human services, said people with chronic heart or lung disease should monitor their symptoms and seek medical care if needed.

“If people are really concerned, I think that the best action they could take is limiting their exposure to the smoke,” Biskupiak said.

Biskupiak said people concerned about the smoke should stay indoors where possible.

John joined the Montana Public Radio team in August 2022. Born and raised in Helena, he graduated from the University of Montana’s School of Media Arts and created the Montana history podcast Land Grab. John can be contacted at
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