Smoky skies this time of year are nothing new, but even lifelong Butte residents are commenting on how unusually thick the smoke has been over the past couple of days.  What's causing it?  Where is it coming from?  What can we do to stay healthy?

According to inciweb, only a handful of fires are presently burning in the Beaverhead and Deer-Lodge National Forests, but the nearby Bitterroot and Salmon National Forests are hotbeds of activity.  Burning over 107,000 total acres southwest of Butte near Salmon, Idaho is the Moose Fire which, although 44 percent contained is contributing greatly to our area's smoke problem.  The Elmo Fire burning near Flathead Lake is also over 21,000 acres and has been burning for weeks.  Containment is presently at 78 percent.

Who is at risk from wildfire smoke? 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who have lung diseases, such as asthma or COPD, as well as those with heart disease are at the greatest risk of harm from wildfire smoke.  Also, children and expectant mothers should take special steps to remain indoors when air quality is poor.  The CDC recommends that you heck local air quality forecasts for information, avoid activities that contribute to indoor pollution such as burning candles or using gas stoves or fireplaces and to keep your indoor air as clean as possible.  Of course steps should be taken to ensure that preventable fires do not start to begin with.  Please build and maintain campfires properly (if allowed at all) and remember to check with local authorities before burning trash or debris.

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