MTPR

wildfire

Residual smoke from the previous day's underburn operations north of the Main Rattlesnake Trailhead near Missoula, MT, Oct. 17, 2019.
Lolo National Forest

It’s fall and that means it’s prescribed fire season in Montana. Wildland managers are now intentionally setting fires to reduce forest fuel buildup or to restore native vegetation.

Two prescribed wildfire operations just north of Missoula produced dense smoke that degraded air quality to unhealthy levels Wednesday night into Thursday morning. As weather forecasters predicted though, a cold front pushed into the region Thursday afternoon, increasing winds which helped dissipate the smoke.

Pile burning operations within the Marshall Woods project area, September 2019.
Montana Public Radio

A prescribed fire in Missoula’s Rattlesnake corridor is sending up plumes of smoke today.

As fire season winds down, managers are intentionally setting fire to brush piles, slash and even large sections of forests in an effort to prevent out of control wildfires in future seasons. A group of scientists from Montana and Idaho recently published a paper arguing that strategies like these should be part of a radical rethinking of how people in the West live with fire.


The Custer Gallatin National Forest Monday postponed several controlled burns in southwest Montana due to an incoming winter storm.

Fire Management Officer Keith Van Broke oversees the start of a 2017 prescribed burn to clear dry, dead brush from an area logged three years previous.
Nicky Ouellet / Montana Public Radio

Consistently wet weather this month and the expected snowstorm this weekend are dampening fire managers’ hopes for large prescribed burns in the Flathead Valley this fall. Managers may have to wait until next season for some projects.

Two trends are converging in large wildland states like Montana — more frequent and severe wildfires and rapid home development in wildfire prone areas. A conference this week examined how homes burn and how to protect them.

A helicopter drops water on the Bannack Fire, July 25, 2019.
Inciweb

Montana’s firefighting fund is in good shape moving into the end of the year, according to the state budget director.

Tom Livers, director of the Governor’s Office of Budget and Program Planning told the Legislative Finance Committee Tuesday that this and last years’ mild fire seasons have swelled the state’s firefighting savings account.

Pile burning operations within the Marshall Woods project area, September 2019.
Montana Public Radio

The U.S. Forest Service has begun prescribed burn projects for thousands of acres within the Lolo National Forest. A press release from the Forest Service says the projects will run through November.

Can you see it? The fire in the photo above?

A single tree burning doesn't put up much smoke.

There's a flash of lightning, sizzling across the sky. Then a pause as bark smolders and flames creep, building heat until poof: a signal in the sky.

Philip Connors, gazing outward from a tower, sees it as a new dent on the crest of a distant ridge. He's spent thousands of hours contemplating the contours of southwest New Mexico. The fuzzy smudge is out of place.

Montana Capitol.
William Marcus / Montana Public Radio

A new state revenue update says Montana’s rainy day and firefighting funds are looking flush as more money is coming in than projected. But a report from legislative researchers indicates the recent cashflow spike could be a temporary blip.

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