MTPR

smoke

Residual smoke from the previous day's underburn operations north of the Main Rattlesnake Trailhead near Missoula, MT, Oct. 17, 2019.
Lolo National Forest

It’s fall and that means it’s prescribed fire season in Montana. Wildland managers are now intentionally setting fires to reduce forest fuel buildup or to restore native vegetation.

Two prescribed wildfire operations just north of Missoula produced dense smoke that degraded air quality to unhealthy levels Wednesday night into Thursday morning. As weather forecasters predicted though, a cold front pushed into the region Thursday afternoon, increasing winds which helped dissipate the smoke.

Barnard Junction prescribed fire on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest seen from Cold Springs Road, August 28, 2019.
TC Peterson / U.S. Forest Service

Smoke from prescribed burns in Idaho is making its way to western Montana Wednesday as the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest begins its prescribed burn season.

The fires ignited Wednesday are expected to burn for several weeks. According to Missoula County Air Quality specialist Sarah Coefield, "These burns are typically the most smoky during and immediately following ignition."

The Howe Ridge Fire in Glacier National Park on August 21, 2018
Inciweb

A new Montana Free Press series is shedding a light on how policies of the past and present intersect with wildfire response. Amanda Eggert, a former wildland firefighter and freelance journalist, is writing the three-part series Living With Fire. Montana Public Radio’s Aaron Bolton spoke with her about the series.

When Timothy Ingalsbee thinks back on his days in the 1980s and '90s fighting wildfires in the Pacific Northwest, he remembers the adventure of jumping out of a helicopter into the wilderness, and the camaraderie of being on a fire crew.

"We just slept in a heap," he says, "on the ground under the stars, or smoke-filled skies."

But Ingalsbee, who went on to found the Eugene, Ore.-based Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics and Ecology, doesn't like to remember all that smoke.

Montana air quality from 3-4 p.m., May 31, 2019.
Montana Department of Environmental Quality

Smoke from large wildfires Alberta drifted into more of Montana Friday, causing haze and air quality issues on both sides of the divide.

Air Quality Meteorologist Kristen Martin with Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality says today may be the worst for the state, at least for now.

Montana air quality health effects for 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., May 30, 2019.
Montana Department of Environmental Quality

Smoke from Canadian wildfires burning in northern Alberta is degrading air quality in parts of Montana. Missoula City-County Air Quality Specialist Ben Schmidt says the smoke started infiltrating Montana’s airshed Wednesday evening.

A plane flies over the Rice Ridge Fire near Seeley Lake, MT, August 8, 2017.
Inciweb

Since before the smoke from the Rice Ridge Fire cleared in 2017, a team of University of Montana researchers have been tracking lung health of local residents.

They presented their early findings to the Seeley Lake Community Council for the first time Monday night.

Air Quality Update For Western Montana, August 24, 2018

Aug 24, 2018
CIRA and NOAA

Smoke from yesterday evening stuck around all night and we woke up to smoky skies this morning. 

Air Quality Update For Western Montana, August 20, 2018

Aug 20, 2018
Satellite photo show clouds and smoke over the northwest, August 20, 2018.
CIRA and NOAA

Yes, the air is bad. No, the smoke is not the entire reason it is so very dreary out there. We are dealing with a combination of cloud cover and smoke cover, which means the sky is gray and the light we can see is filtered through the smoke and is therefore extra weak. Smoke is basically the sun’s kryptonite.  I could get into a whole narrative about how the smoke is the product of the sun’s unrelenting heat on the landscape and it has risen (literally) from the ashes to challenge its creator, but really. That would be silly.

Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes/Inciweb

Today's air quality report courtesy of Missoula City-County Air Quality Specialist Sarah Coefield:

9:30 a.m.

Good morning.

Last night’s smoke stuck around and we’re currently sitting at Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups conditions in Missoula and Frenchtown. Air quality is Moderate in Seeley Lake. When air quality is Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups, children, the elderly and people with heart and lung disease should avoid prolonged outdoor exertion.

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