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

Gianforte calls for aggressive attack on all wildfires

 A forecast map issued May 1, 2023 shows the Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for July 2023. According to the map, all of Montana is predicted to have 'normal' wildfire potential in July 2023.
National Interagency Fire Center
Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for July 2023. Issued May 1, 2023.

Gov. Greg Gianforte Tuesday convened federal, state, tribal and local fire officials for a preview of the state’s wildfire readiness. Forecasters say Montana could see normal fire activity this summer.

According to the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, 95 percent of last season’s fire starts were kept to 10 acres or less. Representatives of the state’s fire agencies vowed to build on that record during Tuesday’s annual fire briefing with Gov. Gianforte.

Gianforte says aggressive initial attack is critical, but more must be done to keep fires in check.

"We must pursue a policy of aggressive attack on all fires until they are extinguished, so long as firefighter safety is not at risk.“

As a result of legislation passed this session, Gianforte says the state will spend more than $60 million to both increase its initial attack capabilities, and to implement forest health improvement projects.

Montana DNRC Fire Protection Bureau Chief Matt Hall says 80 percent of that agency’s seasonal firefighting positions are filled. Hall says he expects all those seasonal positions will be filled by June.

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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