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

Gov Bullock: Conditions Are Ripe For Continued Severe Fires

Smoke from the Highway 200 Complex, September 4, 2017.
Smoke from the Highway 200 Complex, September 4, 2017.

Governor Steve Bullock issued a statement on the fires to the media Monday.

"We are facing a very challenging and unprecedented fire season in Montana and throughout the West."

Bullock’s statement came after the Rice Ridge Fire nearly doubled in size Sunday, to more than 100,000 acres. And after the Alice Creek Fire forced midnight hour evacuations. New evacuations were also ordered for the West Fork Fire near Libby. And that’s just a little bit of what’s happening with the dozens of large fires in Montana now. Governor Bullock says there’s still plenty of fire season to go, too.

"The reality is Montana is in a severe drought and the conditions are ripe for continued severe fires throughout September. Local, state, and federal partners are working together to ensure we are and will continue to use every available resource to fight these fires."

Bullock issued state of emergency and disaster executive orders due to fire and drought in June, July and August. He has mobilized more than 300 Montana National Guard troops for the fire effort, which today the governor said includes 125 aircraft and more than 4,000 firefighters and  staff, plus thousands of volunteer firefighters.

Eric Whitney is NPR's Mountain West/Great Plains Bureau Chief, and was the former news director for Montana Public Radio.
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