Montana experienced one of the worst fire seasons in recent memory, burning over 1 million acres in the Big Sky state. The fires started early, many by lightning strikes in mid-June, and most were not extinguished until mountain snowfall in mid-September. In the meantime, communities across the state were suffering from 'hazardous' level air quality on a daily basis. There was virtually no escape as the tiny airborne particles from the wildfires permeated into homes, hospitals, and schools.
These particles are known to trigger asthma attacks and can cause respiratory issues in healthy children and adults. The American Lung Association in Montana initially provided 10 air filter units to Florence-Carlton Elementary School, where the Lolo Peak fire was making school hallways hazy. As the forecast projected no foreseeable rain and fires across the state continued to grow, it was clear that more needed to be done.
By partnering with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana and their Care Van program, which is typically used as a mobile vaccination clinic, an additional 150 air filter units were delivered to 10 elementary schools in the hardest hit communities. The team travelled over 600 miles in 48 hours to provide relief for children and clean air in their classrooms. The HEPA filter units can remove over 99% of fine particles from the air, allowing kids to breathe easy and focus on learning.