Every summer, the National Forests in Idaho try to get some large scale burning done at really high elevations. According to the Missoula City-County Health Department, they have a really short prescription window.  Air Quality Specialist Sarah Coefield says they are entering that window right now.

“They are planning on lighting some units in the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest that are just west of Missoula County over into Idaho,” Coefield said. “It is looking like the transport winds are likely to bring the smoke our direction. Right now, it doesn’t really look like it is necessarily going to mix down into the Missoula area, but we have been wrong on that before.”

According to Coefield, it's better to be prepared than surprised. The burns will start with ignitions west of Missoula County along the North Fork Clearwater River. The fires are likely to burn and spread for several weeks.

“The smoke is currently slated to be pointed straight at us,” Coefield said. “Hopefully it will stay overhead and not come down to the ground. If it does mix down into the Missoula Valley and we start to see it on our air quality monitors, then we will certainly send out any health advisors. We will let folks know what is going on.”

Coefield says Missoula’s air quality has been fantastic this summer. We haven’t had a single day with anything worse than moderate air quality.