The Montana Television Network (MTN) and the Montana Community Foundation (MCF) announce the distribution of more than $600,000 in grants from the Montana Wildfire Relief Fund.

The fund originated as a partnership between the two organizations and is dedicated to supporting wildfire relief efforts following Montana’s unprecedented 2017 wildfire season.

Launched in mid-September 2017, the fund has grown to more than $600,000 through the extraordinary generosity of individuals, businesses, private foundations, and many others across the country.

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MTN matched the first $50,000 in donations along with other significant contributions that included a $50,000 match from the Mountain Sky Guest Ranch Fund, an affiliate fund to the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, a $50,000 match from Carl and Kay Carbon of Great Falls, an anonymous $50,000 donation, $25,000 from the Montana Shirt Company and $10,000 from American Bank.

“We’re grateful to have played an important role in not only receiving these charitable gifts, but also in administering the grants,” said MCF President and CEO Mary Rutherford. “We’re looking forward to seeing the positive impact these funds will make on the recipient organizations and, in turn, the positive impact made on communities across Montana affected by the fires.”

Volunteer fire departments, fire districts, and communities or individuals impacted by the recent wildfire season were encouraged to apply for assistance. Grants were administered by the Montana Community Foundation.

Their amounts range from $600 to $15,000 and benefit 81 organizations across Montana, primarily rural volunteer fire departments. The majority of grant requests being fulfilled will be used to purchase much- needed personal protection equipment (PPE), radios, equipment such as hoses and nozzles, and other safety gear.

A full list of grant recipients can be found here.

“Maintaining good communications on the scene of a wildland fire is an essential component of firefighter safety,” said Red Lodge Fire Chief Tom Kuntz.

“Fulfillment of our grant request ensures our volunteers have dependable and adequate radio equipment in our apparatus and will greatly increase their ability to operate safely and effectively when fighting wildland fires in our jurisdiction and throughout the State of Montana.”

In addition to fire departments, other organizations that provided direct relief to victims of wildfires or that are located in a community that suffered losses, such as structural damage or economic hardship, will also receive funding.

MTN stations, in coordination with parent company Cordillera Communications based in St. Paul, MN and the Montana Community Foundation, launched the unprecedented fundraising campaign as a way to respond to the need for assistance across the state.

MTN includes KTVQ Billings, KBZK Bozeman, KXLF Butte, KRTV Great Falls, KBGF Great Falls, KTVH Helena, KXLH Helena, KAJ Kalispell and KPAX Missoula. MTN dedicated substantial news time, on-air promotion, and digital advertisements to the effort.

“The Montana Wildfire Relief fund gave MTN a chance to contribute to the communities we serve each day with our local news and programming,” said Cordillera Communications Vice President Jon Saunders. “The response from people across the country was amazing and something MTN is especially proud to be a part of such a successful endeavor.”