Wildfire

Fire officers on the Crow Reservation say they responded to a dozen small wildfires over the past week.

A burnt field with mountains on the horizon, photographed from inside a rural fire truck.
Belt Rural Volunteer Fire Department / Facebook


This past weekend saw record warm temperatures and gusty winds, a recipe for wildfire. Unusual as it sounds, winter wildfires are not common but not unheard of.

The National Weather Service / The National Weather Service

It may be winter but fire danger around Montana could spike this weekend when a system with strong winds, dry conditions and possible record highs for parts of Montana blows in on Saturday.

An arial shot of the Australian bushfires.
Luca Parmitano/ESA_events / Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

 

A handful of Montana wildland firefighters are helping fight the historic bushfires in Australia, which have burned over 12 million acres, destroyed over 2,000 homes and killed at least 24 people. 

The federal Bureau of Land Management issued new guidance Thursday for reducing wildfire risks along powerline rights-of-way on some public lands.

Montana U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte and U.S. Agriculture Department Undersecretary Jim Hubbard spearheaded a roundtable this week in Missoula focused on forest and wildland fire policy.

Gianforte called for greater collaboration among stakeholders. Some stakeholders, however, were noticeably absent from the event.

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.

Inciweb

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.

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.

Pages