Fires in Idaho and as far away as Oregon, California and Canada are bringing smoke into the Missoula valley and reducing air quality to near unhealthy levels for sensitive groups.

Air Quality Specialist with the Missoula City County Health Department, Sarah Coefield, said the incoming smoke has been carried by southwest winds.

"Most of the smoke has been coming in from the Johnson/Barr fire in Idaho," Coefield said. "We've had strong winds from that area that have basically planted all that smoke right into the Missoula valley. The smoke has mixed down into our breathing space this afternoon, and our air quality went from pretty good this morning to as of about 3 p.m. down much closer to being unhealthy for sensitive groups, so smokers, children, the elderly, and those with respiratory problems will want to dial back their activities."

Coefield said the prevailing winds and weather patterns may bring more smoke from the fires in Idaho.

"The meteorologist at the Department of Environmental Quality is not optimistic that we're going to get out of this smoke anytime soon," she said. "She thinks we may be seeing some clearing, but with fires burning in Idaho, Oregon and California, we could certainly expect to see more smoke moving into our breathing space."

Air Quality Specialst Sarah Coefield