Fire managers on the Crow Reservation are calling back crews this week, in anticipation of rising fire potential.
Firefighters, a helicopter and an engine from Crow Agency were dispatched earlier this summer to Alaska Native communities and the San Carlos Apache Reservation in Arizona--places where fire season starts early before moving north to Montana.
Now, they’re on their way back to the Crow Reservation, where Tracy Spang, of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Forestry and Wildland Fire Management, says there are signs the season is picking up.
“Since last Thursday or Friday we noticed that the high elevation has been steady at the high right now,” says Spang.
Meaning that elevated areas on the reservation, like the Pryor or Bighorn Mountains, are at high risk of fire outbreak.
In the past two weeks, the Crow reservation has experienced small fires near Fort Smith, Wyola and Sage Creek, all started by lightning.
But despite the rising fire danger level, Spang says:
“We may not have a long fire season.”
He says 90 perecent of fires caused on the Crow Reservation are man-made right now, either because of trash-burning or friction. But that only becomes a problem if sparks touch grass.
Right now, Spang says that grass is still unusually moist and green on the reservation. He says fires will pick up once it dries out, which he expects to happen by early fall.
Olivia Reingold is Yellowstone Public Radio’s Report for America Corps Member.