The Montana Department of Environmental Quality has issued an air quality alert for Granite, Flathead, Lake, Lincoln, Mineral, Missoula, Ravalli, and Sanders counties in effect until further notice due to smoke from fires in Canada and western Montana. Authorities caution that upcoming weather conditions are causing concern about fire lines on the south end of the blaze.
The evacuation warning in Seeley Lake runs from south of Rice Ridge Road to Double Arrow Road on the east side of Highway 83. Smoke from these fires is draining into the nearby valleys at night, causing severe air quality impacts from midnight through midday.
Particulate levels in Quartz Creek are very unhealthy. While it was Unhealthy in Missoula, Seeley Lake, Florence Hamilton, and Arlee, and Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups in Libby, Thompson Falls, Frenchtown and Condon.
Health Officer Hillary Hanson says that the air quality is measured in Columbia Falls and may not be reflective of the whole valley but there are other ways to tests the quality where you are.
That means active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should avoid prolonged outdoor exertion; everyone else, especially children, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion. When air quality is Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups, people with heart or lung disease, children and the elderly should limit prolonged outdoor exertion.
"Through Saturday it looks like we're going to see more of the same with, potentially, air quality getting a little worse each day", Martin said.
The air quality in Seeley Lake was listed as Hazardous again on Thursday morning with health officials urging residents to leave the area because of the continued poor air quality.