Montana Public Radio

Libby Montana

Members Of The Chloeta crew, Nolan Buckingham, Jaime Garcia and Aaron Turner at the Highway 37 fire near Libby, MT.
Nolan Buckingham

Before firefighters entered the Modified Fire Response Zone of the asbestos-contaminated forest near Libby to suppress the Highway 37 Fire, they donned full-face respirators, and recited a poem.

"You ready? When the sunlight strikes raindrops in the air, they act like a prism and form a rainbow. The rainbow is a division of white light into many beautiful colors …"

The lightning caused Mt. George Fire was discovered by a fire lookout Tuesday morning in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.
Bitterroot National Forest

The Bacon Rind Fire, detected Friday evening above the Gallatin Canyon about 20 miles south of Big Sky is now being estimated at 202 acres. It was started by a thunderstorm that moved through the area on July 16. It is burning in the Lee Metcalf Wilderness area about two miles west Highway 191, between Bacon Rind and Snowslide Creeks. 

Firefighter safety is of particular concern on the Highway 37 Fire north of Libby because of its proximity to a patch of asbestos-contaminated forest.

Among the 50 firefighters working the blaze is a group of 10 specially trained responders. They wear respirators and undergo a full body decontamination after digging fire line in a section of forest with high levels of asbestos fibers, a harmful remnant of the old W.R. Grace vermiculite mine.

The Zulu fire is burning north of Libby in the Zulu Creek area.
Google Maps

The Zulu fire that it is believed lightning started Sunday in the Kootenai National Forest north of Libby expanded to 20 acres today.

Forest spokesman Willie Sykes tells the Flathead Beacon about 80 firefighters and several aircraft are fighting the fire. No structures are threatened.

Downtown Libby, MT.
libbymt.com

A northwestern Montana clinic has been awarded $2.5 million to continue providing asbestos-related healthcare.

Libby’s Center for Asbestos Related Disease, or CARD Clinic, specializes only in asbestos-related illness.

A bear warning sign.
Josh Burnham / Montana Public Radio

It’s been a busy spring for Montana wildlife officials dealing with bear incidents.

A grizzly bear died Monday after eating pesticides in an open garage in north-central Montana. State wildlife officials say the sub-adult female had been seen with a sibling in the area northwest of Great Falls in the days before it died. The 143-pound bear died within hours of ingesting the chemicals.

Libby Lumber Company Destroyed By Fire

Nov 6, 2017

One of the last lumber companies in Libby burned to the ground Sunday. SK Fingerjoint employed about 30 people.

Lincoln County Undersheriff Brandon Huff says the fire was reported at about 2:30 p.m. By the time firefighters arrived, the building was fully engulfed in flames.

State Seeking New Libby Asbestos Cleanup Liaison

Sep 21, 2017
Libby Superfund map.
US Environmental Protection Agency

State and local officials have begun preparations to take over management of the cleanup of the Libby Superfund site, where health officials say hundreds of people have been killed by asbestos exposure.

The Libby Asbestos Superfund Advisory Team met for the first time today after being established by the Montana Legislature earlier this year.

A file photo courtesy MT DNRC Fire
Montana DNRC

Lightning on Friday afternoon resulted in several fire starts across Northwest Montana, some of which were not detected until Sunday.

Montana's Department of Natural Resources and Conservation reports numerous fires scattered throughout the Pleasant Valley/Happy’s Inn/ACM/Fisher River area.

David McCumber, editor of the Montana Standard in Butte, MT.
Mike Albans

In 2009 Montana Senator Max Baucus helped write special provisions into the Affordable Care act that ensure extra help and healthcare are available to residents in Libby who are suffering from asbestos-related disease. But some Montana residents are concerned that if Obamacare is repealed and replaced, these provisions will disappear.

MTPR's Nora Saks speaks with David McCumber, editor of the Montana Standard to learn more.

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