BOZEMAN — Smoke from wildfires burning in Washington, Oregon and California caused the postponement of numerous high school sporting events across Montana on Thursday due to poor air quality.
Soccer matches were most affected Thursday and school officials said they are looking closely at air quality ahead of Friday football games. Three football games in western Montana were rescheduled: Browning at Whitefish was moved to Thursday night due to a referee shortage, Darby at Thompson Falls will be played Saturday, and Noxon at Hot Springs is moved back to Oct. 9.
As of Thursday evening, all other football games were still on. But according to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality website air quality isn't expected to improve at least until Saturday.
Poor air quality in Bozeman on Thursday led to postponement of boys and girls soccer matches between Billings Skyview and Bozeman Gallatin, and Billings West and Bozeman. The same matchups were postponed in Billings last month due to a thunderstorm. Those matches were rescheduled with the Bozeman boys and girls playing West at Amend Park on Saturday, and the Gallatin boys and girls playing Skyview on Monday at Amend.
No makeup dates for Thursday’s postponed matches were set.
On the west side of the state, Missoula Hellgate's soccer matches against Kalispell Flathead and the Missoula Sentinel-Missoula Big Sky showdowns were postponed as well, along with Frenchtown at Stevensville. The Hellgate-Flathead matches were rescheduled for Saturday.
A cross country meet in Twin Bridges scheduled for Friday was called off as well, and the Falcons' volleyball match at Whitehall was postponed.
Also removed from the docket was a volleyball match between Glasgow and Poplar due to a COVID-19 outbreak in Roosevelt County. All practices at Poplar were canceled as well.
The air quality Thursday in Bozeman, Missoula, Kalispell, Helena and Butte was rated "Unhealthy" in the government's Air Quality Index. Air quality in Great Falls and Billings was considered "Unhealthy for sensitive groups".
The list of postponements will be updated as we receive them.