Is a mandatory health evacuation of Seeley Lake possible? - ABC FOX Montana Local News, Weather, Sports KTMF | KWYB

Is a mandatory health evacuation of Seeley Lake possible?

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The national fire preparedness level has been raised to its highest level, this year across the country, fires are monstrous.

However, on a local level, city governments can't issue smoke masks and even the worst smoke areas are still not prompting medical evacuations.

The Missoula City-County Health Department does have the power to issue mandatory evacuation for health reasons.

However, when making that decision they look at the feasibility.

 "We have to look at the feasibility. It's all well and good to say you have to leave because the smoke is too bad, but we have to put it into context with the other risk that folks are facing. They have economic risk, fire risk so this is a risk,” said Ellen Leahy, Health Officer with Missoula City-County Health Dept.

If the health department made the decision it would have to be discussed by medical doctors, county attorney's office, and county commissioners.

As for masks, Staff members with the health department said giving away masks like these would be pointless because they probably won't help residents in the Seeley Lake area.

No matter what mask it is, paint mask, surgical mask or whatever cloth you put over your face, it won't protect you from fire smoke.

"It's going to leak into and come right through it. And you're going to think you're okay. But your breathing in the same amount of smoke,” said Sarah Coefield, Air Quality Specialist with Missoula City-County Health Dept.

When you're exposed to fire smoke many health risks can come into play.

"There is a risk if an increase in heart attack, stroke, complications for people who already have lung disease. Increase asthma attacks also the possibility of reacted lung disease forming in people who are living in the smoke,” said Coefield.

Once again, the health department does recommend that residents leave the Seeley Lake area for their lung health.

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