Missoula Story of the Week: The Smoke Continues…


If you have been in Missoula, or pretty much anywhere in Western Montana, you realize there is no escape from it.

Missoulians have been living in a dense blanket of smoke for the last month with little to no reprieve.

Wildfire smoke may be a part of life in Montana during late summer and fall; however, clean air and the ability to enjoy the outdoors without endangering our health is one of the best things about living in the state.

While Montanans are nothing if resilient, living in a perpetual smoker for the last month has left even the most robust residents struggling for air. Satellite imagery of the area’s wildfires shows just how widespread the smoke is in the area.

The last month, which according to KPAX.com has left us without any measurable precipitation, has been equally difficult on the area’s wildlife.

Smoke from a wild fire fills the Missoula valley.

Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks official Vivaca Crowse reported an increase in wildlife in valley areas and the agency has even had sightings of rattlesnakes. Animals are coming into the valleys in greater numbers while in search of water and food that hasn’t been withering from lack of precipitation.

Officials are reminding residents that they should bring in all animal attractants and limit their use of irrigation in order to avoid enticing wildlife from venturing into suburban areas.

If Missoula fails to receive any rain in by Sunday, the city will break a record for the longest dry spell.

While the weather outlook for the next ten days shows little change or chance of precipitation until later next week, the air quality in Missoula valley has at least improved from unhealthy to good or moderate as of Thursday.


Each week, Tom Diddel recaps the week’s most talked-about story in Missoula. Visit the Make it Missoula News & Opinion section for more talk of the town.


Tom Diddel has lived in Missoula on and off for nearly thirty-eight years. He enjoys skiing, hiking, and many other outdoor activities. He holds a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Montana and is currently working as a Freelance Writer and a Para-Educator.