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Heavy smoke in Butte creates unhealthy air quality

butte smokey.jpg
Posted at 6:38 PM, Sep 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-13 12:40:16-04

BUTTE — In Butte and in Southwest Montana, the air quality is very poor due to wildfire smoke that's settling in the valley.

“Right now we do have some major fires in Oregon that are traveling up when we get that Southwest flow, but we also have that major fire in Salmon, Idaho. A lot smaller fires in Idaho and also Western Montana,” said Environmental Health Director John Rolich.

Butte’s air quality was rated Unhealthy as of Monday, meaning prolonged exposure to the air could be harmful to people.

“Certainly people who have asthma or other lung disorders could have an exacerbation of that disorder, but even for healthy folks could have some allergy symptoms and some difficulty breathing,” said Dr. Collette Chorney of St. James HealthCare.

Health officials suggest making your home a clean air space with good air filters and keeping windows closed.

“The best thing you can do is stay inside, so minimize your exposure to all that smoke and also, if you do have to go outside, try not exercising or doing any vigorous activities,” said Chorney.

The smoky air didn’t prevent the Burks from their daily walk regimen.

“I’m in my 80s, so, You know, it kind of bothers you a little bit, but we just kind of ignore it. Yeah, you wouldn’t want to go for a four-hour hike or anything like that,” said John Burk.

People in Butte have a way of judging the air quality just by sight. If you can’t make out the details of the Our Lady of the Rockies statue on the East Ridge or if you can’t even see the Highland Mountains south of Butte then you know you’ve got a poor air quality day.

“This is one of the worst days we’ve seen. It’s really dense all over to the south and it was nice over the weekend, but today it’s coming in pretty good,” said Burk.

Health officials are hoping cooler temperatures and winds will push the smoke out of the area soon.