Smoke, Poor Air Quality Hovers Over W. Mullan Fire - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Smoke, Poor Air Quality Hovers Over W. Mullan Fire

Posted: Updated:
SUPERIOR -

Health department officials said inversions above Superior are trapping smoke from the West Mullan fire in the area, grounding some helicopters and creating dangerous air quality conditions for residents.

Officials said nearly 1,000 fire personnel have made good progress on the 6,169-acre West Mullan fire.

However, health and fire experts in Mineral County said residents need to take precautions during times of poor air quality and low visibility.

Mineral County Public Health Director Peggy Stevens said poor air quality is most harmful to the elderly, the very young and people with cardiac conditions.

Stevens said, "I also caution those exercise enthusiasts who want to go out and get their hourly workout in, to be careful and cautious on the times that they're planning their workout."

Stevens said breathing in wildfire smoke can cause headaches, dizziness and nausea. She advises residents to check the Mineral County Health Department's web site and Facebook page for daily air quality updates before stepping outside.

"Just know that if you can breathe it, it starts to burn your lungs, or gives you headaches, it's probably not a good idea to spend much time out in that," Stevens said.

Fire Information Officer Jennifer Mayberry LaManna said the smoke clears in the afternoons, but officials say in the morning, some motorists are forced to navigate areas of very low visibility.

LaManna said, "Make sure that they don't speed, and in those areas that the visibility is super low, make sure that you put on your headlights so that people can see you."

LaManna said fire danger moved from "very high" to "extreme" this morning, marking hazardous, dry conditions in the Superior area.

"It's really important that as travelers go down the highway, they're vigilant not to drive on the dry grass, and anything that can create embers or sparks, just remember that the fuels are very receptive to embers right now," LaManna said.

LaManna also advises residents to keep their lawns watered and clear of flammable debris to create a defensible space against fires.

Fire officials say most evacuation orders have been lifted, but Dry Creek Road, Keystone Gulch and Flat Creek Road are still under mandatory evacuation.

Click here for the latest air quality updates in the West Mullan fire area.

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