Missoula Fires are Minimal in 2020

Gabi Wilson, Reporter

     Usually in the month of August it is typical to go outside and immediately smell and see the smoke surrounding the Missoula valley. Most of the time, we are even unable to see the mountains around us due to how thick the smoke can be. Luckily, the smoke this year in Missoula was very minimal and didn’t necessarily come from any major fires from Montana. The small amount of smoke that we did have seemingly came from the wildfires on the west coast, specifically in California. 

Photo By Gabi Wilson

     Luckily, the smoke only lasted for three weeks or less. While the smoke was here, though, it was quite thick and heavy. If you were driving on the highway and looked out, you most likely weren’t able to see about half of the valley. In a typical Missoula summer, during the whole month of August or longer, the smoke is extensive. In the past years, the smoke has been so bad that we had to take precautions just about going outside. This year, even though we still had smoke, at least it was quite minimal and not too dangerous. 

     Every year, smoke from the California wildfires tends to blow up north and settle into small town Missoula. The smoke has also been coming in from Idaho and Washington wildfires. When we do get smoke from these fires, it stays for a short time and eventually blows away. It is especially helpful to have rain during these weeks to help the smoke die  down.

     There are various wildfires in central and eastern Montana. These fires are very fast moving and residents are being evacuated, but may be able to access their homes soon enough. The fires going on in Eastern Montana started during the extreme fire conditions. Luckily firefighters are staying on top of it and doing their best to react fast. Some of these fires have been wind-started while others are unfortunately human caused. 

     One fire we happened to have in Missoula was on Mount Sentinel, which was extremely unfortunate. The fire started at the base and over the course of an hour moved up the mountain, causing closures of the “M” trail and the streets along the mountain. The cause of the fire is under investigation, but it is rumored that teenagers were “playing with fire” and ignited the blaze. As you drive by, you can clearly see the blackened part of Mount Sentinel caused by the fire. 

     The fires and the smoke seem to have all dissipated, and we have clear blue skies and fresh air to breathe in. Make sure to always check the fire safety during these months and fire regulations. If you are not supposed to be lighting fires, don’t do it! Let’s all help to keep our air clean and our forests green. Stay smart and do your part.