Montana Public Radio

wildfire

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.

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

After a tame fire season, the Flathead National Forest hopes to spark a number of prescribed burns in the coming weeks, but rain could limit how much work fire managers get done.

McClusky Fire from Four Corners Trailhead 09/05.
Inciweb

Significantly cooler weather is helping fire crews battling a 2,900 acre wildfire burning east of Butte.

Hot, dry and windy weather spurred the McClusky Fire to nearly triple in size earlier this week. But fire spokesperson Kristin Sleeper describes the McClusky Fire’s growth and behavior over the past 24-hours as minimal

InciWeb

Yesterday’s hot, windy red flag weather spurred the McClusky Fire east of Butte to nearly triple in size.

Fire team spokesperson Kristin Sleeper says today’s weather has been more forgiving. But the 2,887-acre blaze in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest is expected to continue growing into the evening.

Firefighters are keeping track of further weather changes tonight heading into tomorrow, including potential gusty winds.

A firefighter carries a drip-torch during a previous controlled burn in the Bitterroot National Forest.
Bitterroot National Forest

Fall is here, and the Bitterroot National Forest’s first seasonal prescribed burns could begin Saturday in the Lake Como/Lost Horse area. The planned blazes allow managers to remove excess forest fuels and downed timber.

Though few relish the smoke, Bitterroot Forest spokesman Tod McKay said prescribed burns are critical in preparing for the next fire season.

Large swaths of Montana and Wyoming are facing critical fire danger today.

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