Edward O'Brien


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

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Griz football game at the University of Montana
flickr user MuddyRavine (CC-BY-NC-ND-2)

Plans to visit Missoula this weekend, but don't have a room booked yet? If so, you're either out of luck or you'll be paying a premium.

The Garden City will host not only the first University of Montana home football game of the season, but also the hugely popular River City Roots Festival. That admission-free, two-day music and arts event is produced by the Missoula Downtown Association.

Plum Creek Timber's Columbia Falls fiberboard plant
Katrin Frye

A Columbia Falls fiberboard production line will open a bit later than expected after a small explosion and fire shut it down late last week.


Fire danger has prompted Plum Creek Timber Company to restrict some activities on all its western Montana properties until further notice.

Plum Creek Vice President Tom Ray says the company isn't allowing any camping, campfires, firewood cutting, smoking, fireworks or target shooting.

"Any of those types of activities are now precluded because it's just so dry. It's just extremely dry."

Plum Creek Timber's Columbia Falls fiberboard plant
Katrin Frye

No lives were lost, no one was injured and no one will be laid off. That from Plum Creek Timber Company officials in response to yesterday's small explosion and fire at its medium-density fiberboard plant in Columbia Falls.

3 fires burning near Noxon have prompted evacuations orders along Highway 56, and filled the air with smoke.
Courtesy Geri Lee

Near the Montana - Idaho state line in Sanders County today, an additional 30 to 40 homes north of Noxon have been evacuated, a day after fire officials told residents in about 14 other homes to leave.

Wind and very low humidity have caused several fires burning in the Kootenai National Forest to spread, prompting concerns that they may combine, that’s according to fire information officer John Head.

Missoula City-County Health Department

Wildfire smoke was almost bearable in some western Montana communities yesterday, but that's about to change.

The Missoula City-County Health Department says winds that have kept the smoke at bay for the past 24 hours or so are expected to shift to the west today. That could blow lots more smoke to the east.

In other words, there's a massive amount of smoke just over the mountains in Idaho and it's headed into Montana. That means air quality is going to quickly deteriorate. 

Gov. Steve Bullock speaks about the benefits of the Montana University System Research Initiative, Tuesday, August 18, 2015 on the UM campus.
Edward O'Brien

Two University of Montana programs will share over $3.5 million in state research funds. UM's traumatic brain injury and water quality monitoring programs are among the first to benefit from the "Montana University System Research Initiative". That's a $15 million program that passed out of the last session of the Montana legislature.

Montana air quality map.
Montana DNRC

Generally hazy and smoky conditions with only temporary relief could be with us for quite some time given all the wildfires burning in Washington, Idaho and Montana.

The state of Montana's air quality meteorologist, Kristen Martin explains what those air quality ratings mean, and how air quality is measured.

Two orphaned Yellowstone grizzly cubs will be going to the Toledo Zoo.
Flickr user Carl Berger (CC-BY-NC-2.0)

The two cubs of a Montana grizzly bear that killed a hiker in Yellowstone National Park are going to an Ohio zoo.

Luke Robinson, National Weather Service Meteorologist
Edward O'Brien

The National Weather Service says western Montana may face another widespread and powerful storm system this week. Cleanup continues from Monday's storm that left a path of destruction in its wake and thousands without power for days. Edward O'Brien visited the NWS offices in Missoula to talk with Meteorologist Luke Robinson about Friday's forecast.