Seeley Swan Pathfinder -


By Andi Bourne

Overwhelming Response to Wildfire Health Screening


September 28, 2017

The Missoula City-County Health Department smoke monitoring station, located on the southeast corner of the Seeley Lake Elementary School property in downtown Seeley Lake, record particulate levels daily. The shaded part of the chart notes the Hazardous Health Effects Category, defined as visibility less than 1.3 mile and particulate levels above 250 μg/m3. The Rice Ridge Fire started July 24. The fire grew from 60 acres to more than 3,000 acres between July 31 and Aug. 1, noted by the first spike in particulate levels. Particulate levels continued to climb increasing in amount and duration. The Health Department recommended Aug. 9 that Seeley Lake residents leave and others avoid the area to reduce their exposure. During the 64 day period represented, there were 18 days were the average was in Hazardous and 36 days where particulate levels were Hazardous for at least one hour. All data is available at

SEELEY LAKE – The Seeley Lake community response to the wildfire health screening held Sept. 20 was overwhelming. Health officials closed the door three hours early after 95 participants signed up. That was the maximum number of materials that they had brought with them, not knowing the level of interest.

About three weeks ago, the Missoula City-County Health Department approached the University of Montana researchers about conducting the study because the levels of particulates and duration were unprecedented.

"Ever since the end of July you have been averaging over 200 μg/m3 per day,"...

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