Edward O'Brien


Edward O'Brien is Montana Public Radio's Associate News Director.

Ways to Connect

Dan and Michelle Schurg show how close the Lolo Peak Fire got to their home in the Folsom Road neighborhood near Florence.
Mike Albans

This fire season has seen numerous evacuation orders across Montana, but some people choose to stay, saying they want to be present to defend their homes. Among them were Dan and Michelle Schurg.

In the wee hours of August 17, The Lolo Peak Fire destroyed two homes in their Florence-area neighborhood. Dan, Michelle and a friend defied a mandatory evacuation order to defend the Schurg home in the upper reaches of the Folsom Road area. 

Jackie Stermitz looks over the remains of her Florence area home, which burned in the Lolo Peak Fire on August 17, 2017.
Mike Albans

"I don’t know where it was, but the other day I saw one of my mother’s silver cups," says Jackie Stermitz.

"I see a cup over there! Ohhh – I’d almost rather not see this stuff, to be honest, because it’s all broken up."

Jackie Stermitz spent seven years in her home that was built into the hillside in the upper reaches of the Macintosh Manor subdivision near Florence. On August 17, the raging Lolo Peak fire reduced it and a neighbor’s home to rubble.


Today's air quality report from Missoula City-County Air Quality Specialist Sarah Coefield:

"Good morning, We woke up to yet another day of white skies and muted light. Some of us had the added bonus of stale campfire smell, which means there's a bit more local smoke making its way to the Missoula Valley this morning. (When you can see the smoke, but you can't smell the smoke, the odds are pretty good it was generated by distant fires. The volatile organic chemicals that give smoke that acrid taste and smell don't travel very well.)

Steve Mollenhoff

Today's air quality update from Missoula City-County Air Quality Specialist, Sarah Coefield:

"Good morning, The smoke is thick, the inversions are strong, and the Smoke Spiral is still rotating overhead. It's messy out there, folks.

University of Montana's Main Hall.
Josh Burnham

The search for the University of Montana’s next president has now been whittled down to four finalists. They’ll all visit Missoula later this month. One could take the helm of UM possibly as soon as spring semester.