Wildfire smoke from California to linger in Montana; storms could spark more fires


GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — Wildfire smoke from California is expected to keep pouring into Montana through Wednesday as much of the state remains under a public health alert due to bad air.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality on Tuesday issued an alert for unhealthy air quality covering 18 counties in western and central Montana. It was to stay into effect until further notice.

State and local health officials recommend people with respiratory problems, children and the elderly avoid prolonged exertion until air quality improves.

National Weather Service Forecaster Thomas Pepe says the southwesterly winds that are bringing in the smoky air are expected to persist over coming days.

Warm weather and the potential for thunderstorms raises the potential for new fires in Montana, adding to a few already burning in the state.

Pepe says cooler weather is not expected to arrive until early next week.