MISSOULA – While some debate whether the Montana fires are getting enough national news coverage, the persistent fire season is certainly getting people across the country to open their checkbooks.

United Way leaders said donations are pouring into a pair of fund drives, with contributions coming from more than 40 different states.

United Way of Missoula County established the drives last month in cooperation with Missoula County and other agencies helping fire victims and evacuees.

Two separate drives are running to help with both the Lolo Peak and Rice Ridge fires.

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People from across the US are pitching in, along with local contributors. United Way Chief Executive Officer Susan Hay Patrick said the drives have raised $50,000, with donations from 42 states.

Saturday’s benefit concert by “Bikers Against Bullies USA” in Missoula raised another $20,000 which will go to the 406 Family Aid Foundation’s relief efforts.

Funds raised through the drives have helped people with relocation costs during their evacuations, air filters for local schools, replacing food damaged by smoke and helping individuals who lost property pay their insurance deductibles.

MTN’s Dennis Bragg

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