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Wildfire

Officials say scarce resources, hiring challenges could complicate the upcoming fire season

mount sentinel wildfire plane.jpg
Payton Butler
/
Montana Public Radio/file photo
An airplane drops retardant on a grass fire burning on Mount Sentinel in Missoula on Aug. 20, 2020.

Gov. Greg Gianforte was briefed Monday on the state’s wildfire season outlook.

Officials tell Gianforte the upcoming season could be marked by heavy competition for scarce resources, due in part to ongoing challenges to hire enough wildland firefighters.

Still, state, federal and local agency administrators vow aggressive, cooperative initial attack on smaller fires.

April’s cooler-than-average temperatures and near-normal precipitation bolstered the snowpack west of the Divide.

Western Montana’s wildfire outlook is still uncertain. Forecasters are watching the precipitation, but say significant wildfires remain a risk in Montana this season.

Forecasters say eastern Montana’s ongoing drought could likely lead to above-normal potential for significant wildfires in July and August.

Despite a variable outlook across the state, experts are predicting another active fire season both regionally and across the nation.

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