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Wildfire, fire management and air quality news for western Montana and the Northern Rockies.

Lodgepole Complex Evacuations Lifted As Favorable Weather Helps Firefighters

A retardant drop on the Lodgepole Complex, July 23, 2017.

The Garfield County Sheriff is lifting the evacuations for property owners in the Lodgepole Complex Fire area. That’s thanks to more favorable weather conditions that have allowed firefighters from 34 states to make some progress on trying to contain the massive 390 square mile fire.

“Today has progressed nicely, I feel like we’re making progress on containment, we’re still waiting for some more numbers to come in, but as far as I know, and talking to my husband who’s an engine boss, we haven’t made any major runs on the fire,” says Anne Miller, a spokesperson for the fire management team.

Fire managers say they have stopped growth on most of the fires and have gained 20 percent containment.

Miller says a lot of Garfield County residents are extremely jumpy right now because a lightning storm passed over the area last night.

"And while it was on the north side of the lake, there’s concern that would start fires in other areas that would draw eventually into the Lodgepole Complex,” she says.

Yesterday, Montana’s Democratic Senator Jon Tester took to the Senate floor to call on the Federal  Emergency Management Agency and Congress to help first responders across Montana who are fighting wildfires.

“Protecting our communities from disaster and coming to help our fellow Americans in their time of need is a fundamental pillar of government,” Tester said.

On Monday, FEMA’s regional administrator denied a request for emergency funding from Montana Governor Steve Bullock.

There are more than 2 dozen wildfires burning in the state right now.

“As Montana burns Congress cannot afford to wait," Tester said. "We need to act and allow catastrophic wildfires to be treated as what they are. They are natural disasters. It’s the least we can do for the rancher in Jordan who no longer has his cattle.”

Tester today called FEMA Administrator Brock Long to request additional resources for the state.

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