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Garfield County Revives Relief Fund In Wake Of Huff Fire

Smoke from the Huff Fire over Jordan, MT
Smoke from the Huff Fire over Jordan, Mont. on Sept. 2, 2020

The Huff Fire that torched through central Montana’s Garfield County earlier this month didn’t claim any human lives or homes. But many people lost the outbuildings, barns, corrals, granaries, livestock, farm equipment, fences and hay that ensure their livelihoods.

The county is reviving a relief fund that helped carry area residents through the massive Lodgepole Complex Fire of 2017.

The Huff Fire came close but spared the homes in Jordan and elsewhere in Garfield County.

Rex Phipps gives credits to the help that came from local, state and federal resources.

"Basically in Garfield when there is a disaster, especially a fire disaster, everybody that can help is helping in some way. Very fortunate to get through this as well as we did. And fortunate to have the help from other agencies in eastern Montana and other state and federal agencies helping. We got a lot of help," Phipps says.

Phipps is the fiscal officer of the Garfield County Fire Foundation, a nonprofit group that works under the umbrella of the Central Montana Foundation, providing financial help to those affected by fire.

The Garfield County Fire Foundation has been around since a fire in 2004, helping with fire relief when needed, like after the Lodgepole Complex Fire in 2017.

"The foundation, in addition to providing a conduit for cash donations. We are also set up to assist with donations of things like hay, and fencing materials, food, household supplies, fuel. Those are the things we assisted with to make sure donated items were getting out to those affected," Phipps says.

As in 2017, Phipps says the foundation will get a list of all the landowners affected by the Huff Fire and send them a grant application. Completed applications go to an anonymous review committee.

"Every application was answered with a monetary support from the fund and we hope to do that again with this fire. Same process," Phipps says.

And already they are starting to get donations.

"Garfield County people look after each other But also I like to say Montana people look out for each other," Phipps says.

More information about the Huff Fire Recovery effort is available here.