With the Magpie Rock Fire burning over 2,000 acres in Sanders County and several other smaller fires burning in the Mission and Flathead areas, smoke is making its way into the Missoula and Bitterroot Valleys.

However, that’s not where all the smoke is coming from.

Missoula County Health Department Air Quality Specialist Sarah Coefield has been keeping track of the smoke coming into the area.

“Most of the smoke in our region is actually coming from California, where there are so very large fires burning, primarily in northern California near the border with Oregon,” said Coefield. “That smoke has caught the higher level winds and then has been headed our direction for several days now.”

Coefield then said the fire north of Missoula is adding to the mix.

“Now there is also a fire burning in Sanders County, as well as a couple of fires burning up on the CSKT jurisdiction,” she said. “The larger of the two has been sending smoke north of the main Missoula valley, but is headed toward Seeley Lake.”

Coefield looked forward to the weekend as to where more smoke might be coming from into western Montana.

“Certainly, fire season has kicked off,” she said. We are expecting continued hot and dry conditions and as of right now there has been some lightning in the Bitterroot. The fire in California is still growing and from the heat detection maps, the fire in Sanders County is continuing to grow.”

Coefield said there have been a large number of campfires that have not been completely extinguished, so she urges anyone camping to make sure all campfires are dead out and cold to the touch.

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