British Columbia wildfires put haze over western Montana

British Columbia wildfires put haze over western Montana

08 August 2010

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USA — The smoke we’re seeing in western Montana is coming from wildfires in British Columbia.

Bridget DeRosa of the National Weather Service in Missoula said that while it was hazy in the Missoula and Bitterroot valleys, visibility was still more than 10 miles on Saturday. But it was reduced to 6 miles in the Flathead Valley around Kalispell.

“They’re having a pretty active fire system in British Columbia, and it’s being pulled by a trough of low pressure that’s just kind of making smoke come this way,” DeRosa said.

More than 400 fires are burning a combined area of nearly 200 square miles in British Columbia, according to Canadian news outlets.

The smoke has prompted officials in two north-central Washington counties to brand the air in most areas as “unhealthy for sensitive populations.”

In Montana, “I don’t really see much of a change coming,” DeRosa said. “Maybe Sunday could provide a brief break (from the smoke), but we have another trough right behind this one for Sunday and Monday.”

Fires in Montana continued to be quiet.

The Lolo National Forest issued one update Saturday on the Packer Meadows Fire near Lolo Pass, which remained at 135 acres. The lightning-caused fire that started July 27 is 85 percent contained and is expected to be fully contained around noon on Monday.

Some resources have been released, and 27 firefighters remain as the fire continues to cool. One Hotshot crew continued to mop up around the edges, within the interior of the main fire, and on any remaining spot fires.

Three closures remain in effect: the Lee Creek Campground, two miles south of Lolo Hot Springs; the Lee Ridge Trail, from its beginning three miles south of Lolo Hot Springs to the Montana/Idaho border; and North Lost Park Road, three miles northeast of Lolo Pass at its junction with Forest Service Road 2195.

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