Montana Public Radio

wildfire

Tom Javins holds a HEPA filter used in a DIY home air filter. Javins says his tests show the DIY filters can be safe and effective.
Courtesy Amy Cilimburg / Climate Smart Missoula

Where there’s smoke, there’s not necessarily fire. Montana’s air quality rapidly deteriorated this week, but the vast majority of the wildfire smoke polluting the state’s air is coming from northern California. Researchers are increasingly concerned about the public health impacts of wildfire smoke.

MTPR's Edward O’Brien introduces us to a Montana engineer who researched the efficacy and safety of an inexpensive and increasingly popular "do-it-yourself" home air-filtration system.

Air Quality is listed as “Moderate” and “Good” across western Montana this afternoon. That’s according to the Department of Environmental Quality. Smoke continues to blow into the state from massive wildfires burning in California. Fires burning in Idaho and Montana are also adding to the haze, according to modeling on the AIRPACT Map from Washington State University.

Smoke from California wildfires continues blanketing Montana and degrading its air quality. By mid-afternoon Tuesday 10 cities reported air quality that was "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups."

Air quality rapidly deteriorated this afternoon across much of Montana thanks to wildfire smoke. And that smoke is going to stick around for at least a few more days.

National Weather Service

Several communities across southwest Montana are beginning to see smoke move in from wildfires in northern California. Fine particulate levels in Bozeman shifted into the unhealthy category around 8 a.m. Saturday, according to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality’s air monitoring website. Butte’s air quality also shifted into unhealthy territory around 10 a.m.

Hamilton, Dillon and West Yellowstone were all experiencing air quality levels that can affect sensitive groups Saturday morning as well.

Fire crews in Missoula spent the day Friday mopping up the remnants of Thursday’s grass fire that scorched the face of Mount Sentinel just south of the University of Montana.

A helicopter drops water on a fire burning on Mount Sentinel in Missoula, August 20, 2020.
Charles Bolte

A wildfire that has blackened the base of Mount Sentinel east of the University of Montana is now 75 percent contained, according to a 9 p.m. update from UM.

The fire is burning east of Pioneer Court along the hill’s southern edge. At least two helicopters were dumping buckets of water on the blaze. The fire's growth is stalled out for now, according to the Missoula fire chief.

A wildfire that has blackened the base of Mount Sentinel east of the University of Montana is now 75 percent contained, according to a 9 p.m. update from UM.

The fire is burning east of Pioneer Court along the hill’s southern edge. At least two helicopters were dumping buckets of water on the blaze. The fire's growth is stalled out for now, according to the Missoula fire chief.

The National Weather Service recorded at least 1,700 lighting strikes across the Northern Rockies last night and early this morning. Over 200 of them hit a hot and parched western Montana where fire danger is increasing.

Montana’s firefighting fund is full for the first time in state history amid what Gov. Steve Bullock is calling strong overall budget reserves.

Bullock said during a press call on Aug. 17 that his office transferred about $46 million to the fire suppression fund on Aug. 15, hitting the statutory cap of more than $101 million.

“A fire fund filled to the brim is an important cushion to have at this time,” Bullock said.

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