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

Officials say scarce resources, hiring challenges could complicate the upcoming fire season

Montana Wildfire News

Gov. Greg Gianforte was briefed Monday on the state’s wildfire season outlook.

Officials tell Gianforte the upcoming season could be marked by heavy competition for scarce resources, due in part to ongoing challenges to hire enough wildland firefighters.

Still, state, federal and local agency administrators vow aggressive, cooperative initial attack on smaller fires.

April’s cooler-than-average temperatures and near-normal precipitation bolstered the snowpack west of the Divide.

Western Montana’s wildfire outlook is still uncertain. Forecasters are watching the precipitation, but say significant wildfires remain a risk in Montana this season.

Forecasters say eastern Montana’s ongoing drought could likely lead to above-normal potential for significant wildfires in July and August.

Despite a variable outlook across the state, experts are predicting another active fire season both regionally and across the nation.

Fireline probes the causes and consequences of the increasingly devastating wildfires burning in the U.S. It taps into the experience of firefighters, tribal land managers, climate scientists and more to understand how we got here and where we're going.

O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the University of Montana School of Journalism. His first career job out of school was covering the 1995 Montana Legislature. When the session wrapped up, O’Brien was fortunate enough to land a full-time position at the station as a general assignment reporter. Feel free to drop him a line at