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Air quality in Missoula County remains dicey as California fire contributes to haze

By Scott Zoltan, KECI Reporter, szoltan@keci.com
Published On: Aug 27 2013 06:59:07 PM MDT
Updated On: Aug 27 2013 08:33:07 PM MDT
MISSOULA, Mont. -

At 5 p.m. Tuesday, Missoula County health officials reported that air quality is listed as “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” for long-term exposure in Frenchtown, Missoula and Lolo.

Smoke from the Lolo Creek Complex stayed in the Lolo area in the morning, but lifted up later in the day. Air quality is forecasted to improve throughout Tuesday evening.

County health staff say that hazy, smoky conditions may linger. Missoula health officials say that smoke from California’s Rim Fire has been creating a sheen of haze over Missoula Valley. The fire, burning in the Yosemite area, has created a burn area larger than Chicago.

Meanwhile, health officials and school staff are keeping a close eye on air quality as students get ready for their first day of school. There aren’t any plans to shorten recess or make any other changes in response to the air quality, though staff will routinely check air data.

Meanwhile, the smoky air has created problems for Montanans dealing with pre-existing conditions. NBC Montana spoke with one mother, whose 17-year-old son has been staying in Browning until the air quality in Missoula improves.

“Because of asthma and cystic fibrosis…being here [at a water park in Missoula] could put him in the hospital,” said Kim McLean.