MTPR

Mike DeGrosky

A Heli-Feller, a piece of equipment designed to cut and hold the tops off trees, allows helicopters to assist ground crews clearing the areas around power lines.
Rachel Cramer / Yellowstone Public Radio

As fire season starts to heat up in Montana, the threat of electrical power lines igniting dry forests is raising concerns. Power lines started the deadliest and most expensive fire in California history last November, the Camp Fire, which destroyed the town of Paradise and killed 85 people.

The threat of vegetation falling on Montana power lines has increased in recent years due to the rising number of beetle-killed trees.

July Max/Min Temps and Precipitation.
Coleen Haskell/Michael Richmond - National Interagency Fire Center

Average fire conditions are expected throughout most of Montana this summer, according to analysis given to Gov. Steve Bullock during his annual pre-fire-season briefing today. However, fire officials warn that climate change is continuing to lengthen fire seasons throughout the West.

Mike DeGrosky is Montana's Fire and Aviation Bureau Chief.
John Owens/BLM

Montana may be in for a "typical" fire season, but officials say that’s not the same thing as an "easy" fire season. Montana’s Fire and Aviation chief for the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation says most signs point to a “normal” fire season this year.

Live and beetle killed trees in the Helena National Forest.
Steve Jess

State officials say the new kinds of forest management tools the Farm Bill gave them are good for both Montana’s forests and the state’s economy. But some environmentalists say those claims are dubious at best.

Mike DeGrosky is Montana's Fire and Aviation Bureau Chief.
John Owens/BLM

The State of Montana has a new Fire and Aviation Bureau Chief. He was hired last month, and is keeping a close eye on this winter’s weather.