So far this year, more than 1,500 fires have burned 937 square miles in Montana. They've burned through homes and ranches and forced evacuations across Montana. The fires have already drained the state's firefighting reserve fund and an emergency fund, and there is no end in sight for the hot, dry weather that the fires are feeding on. Several relief organizations are accepting donations to help Montanans displaced by the fires and smoke. Here's how you can help:
The Missoula United Way has set up a fund to aid those affected by the Rice Ridge Fire near Seeley Lake, and a fund for evacuees from the Lolo Peak Fire. You can contact the Missoula United Way at 406-549-6104.
The 406 Family Aid Foundation was formed "To aid persons and their families in Western Montana who are experiencing financial hardship caused by unforeseen illness, complications of a previous illness, loss in a family or natural disaster.” They're accepting donations for Lolo Peak Fire evacuees at www.406familyaidfoundation.org.
Garfield County Fire Foundation Relief Fund has been set up to help victims of the Lodgepole Complex, Montana's largest fire this year, which burned nearly over 270,000 acres in Eastern Montana. You can donate online at https://fundly.com/garfield-county-fire-foundation
Checks can be made to Garfield County Fire Foundation c/o Garfield County Bank PO Box 6, Jordan, MT 59337 (406-557-2201) or send to Circle c/o Redwater Valley Bank, PO Box 60, Circle, MT 59215 (406-485-4782).
The American Red Cross of Montana has opened 10 shelters for fire evacuees in Montana this year, including for Sunrise Fire evacuees near Superior, and evacuees from Seeley Lake. You can donate online at http://www.redcross.org/local/montana or call 800-272-6668
Missoula-based Bear Trust International is about $3,000 away from its goal of raising about $8,200 to place air filters in all 32 Frenchtown classrooms. A press release says the need is acute because there is no air conditioning in Frenchtown schools, so teachers have to open windows to moderate temperatures.
Bear Trust International says it's buying filters for the schools that are designed to removed the PM 2.5 particulates are are in wildfire smoke and a health concern. The filters also remove volatile organic compounds in smoke. The organization says the filter manufacturer is offering them a reduced price since they're for classrooms. Bear Trust says the filters could be in place as early as next week.
The Trust's press release says, "This is a time of crisis and we want to do everything we can to help those in need."