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Air quality conditions 'unhealthy' in the Bitterroot Valley

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Posted at 10:47 AM, Aug 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-22 12:47:06-04

Smoke from California wildfires is causing the air quality in the Bitterroot Valley to be classified as unhealthy.

The Missoula City-County Health Department said on Saturday that air quality in the Bitterroot Valley is "unhealthy for sensitive groups" after the valley saw a lot of smoke last night.

"When air quality is unhealthy for sensitive groups, people with heart or lung disease, children and the elderly should limit prolonged outdoor exertion," MCCHD said in a release. "Anyone experiencing symptoms of heart or lung disease associated with smoke exposure should contact their health care provider."

Missoula County and Seeley are both rated as "moderate" for air quality.

The smoke from the California fires is expected to stay south of Missoula on Saturday and should stay there until Monday at which point that could change due to a possible southwesterly flow that could usher smoke to Missoula from any upwind fires.

"In short, we had our first foray into the 2020 wildfire smoke season (Friday night) but it was relatively short-lived and (Saturday) should be better," the release continued. "We may continue to see some haze, but unless you are very sensitive to smoke, it shouldn’t be enough to wreck your weekend plans."

MCCHD noted that the air quality is contingent on the fire situation remaining unchanged and if more fires start near the Missoula area, the air quality will likely deteriorate.