Health officials say the residents of Seeley Lake are experiencing dangerous levels of wildfire smoke that have never before been monitored in Missoula County.
Air quality specialists now say it's essential that residents of Seeley Lake take steps to protect themselves, and they say the most effective way to do that is to leave.
Sarah Coefield with the Missoula City-County Health Department says that since August 1, air quality in Seeley Lake has hit hazardous levels seven times, and it's not going to get better anytime soon.
Coefield says smoke from the Rice Ridge fire is going to continue funneling in Seeley Lake every night where it enters buildings and puts every resident at risk of serious health effects. Health effects can include reduced lung function, heart attack and stroke.
Seeley Lake residents who do not wish to pre-evacuate should consider spending the night and morning away from town and returning to their properties after the worst smoke has lifted. Always check to make sure conditions have improved before returning to Seeley Lake.
The Red Cross has set up a shelter in the Potomac Community Center. Seeley Lake residents who do not have another place to go should consider spending nights at the Potomac Red Cross shelter. The shelter is located at 29827 Potomac Road in Potomac. Anyone seeking to stay at the shelter may call the Red Cross of Montana at 1-800-272-6668.
If you cannot leave the area, health officials recommend using a HEPA air filter. The Missoula City/County Healthy Department has also issued the following recommendations to Seeley Lake residents:
The Missoula City-County Health Department is issuing stronger recommendations for Seeley Lake residents to avoid the dangerous wildfire smoke in the community.
Recent air monitoring readings show record levels of harmful wildfire smoke in Seeley Lake. Indoor air is not safe. The smoke that is outside is also inside the buildings.
The recommendations are for everyone, but they are especially important for groups with higher health risk from breathing smoke: infants, children, pregnant women, people with asthma, lung or heart disease, and everyone 65 and older.
Spend as little as time in the Seeley Lake area as possible.
Summer practices for school athletic events should be canceled or moved to a different community with clean air.
If you must stay in Seeley Lake, being inside does not provide adequate protection from the smoke. Improve your indoor air with:
Do not rely on particle or surgical masks to protect your health. They provide no protection against the very small particles you breathe in from wildfire smoke.
Red Cross Shelter:
Potomac Red Cross Shelter
29827 Potomac Road, Potomac, MT 59823.
Anyone seeking to stay at the shelter may call the Red Cross of Montana at 1800-272-6668.