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Aerial firefighters share concern for fires ahead of Fourth of July weekend

"We’re just waiting for the call"
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Posted at 10:49 AM, Jul 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-01 12:49:12-04

BOZEMAN — It’s normal to see a commercial airplane flying in the sky, but what you may not want to see is a wildfire tanker in the sky - especially during this time of hot, dry weather.

“At this point with how dry and how hot it’s been in this state, I would prefer that no one takes part in any firework activities this weekend, particularly if you’re further out in the country with big fields,” said Bridger Aerospace's Andrew Hill.

And the reason for his preference comes from his line of work.

“There’s a very good chance it’s going to be a busy weekend especially with the dry, the dryness around here, and the high temperatures," Hill said. "We’re just waiting for the call.”

“We’ll be responding to any fires that are within our view with those agencies,” Hill said.

Many people have expressed concerns over fires that can be sparked by fireworks this weekend and aerial firefighters share in those concerns.

“There’s a very good chance it’s going to be a busy weekend especially with the dry, the dryness around here, and the high temperatures," Hill said. "We’re just waiting for the call.”

Which is one of the differences of aerial firefighting versus traditional.

“We don’t respond directly to a fire without a call from the forest service or a state agency that assigns us to that fire differently from what you would see out of a county fire department or a township fire department," Hill said. "They respond as soon as the incident occurs. We are on standby until the government or state agency contacts us to go out to that fire.”

And it’s on a case-by-case basis whether aerial firefighters are needed not only here in Montana but around the country.

“This aircraft behind me, soon as we’re carted by the U.S. Forest Service will be ready to deploy for any call that we were to get," Hill said. "Right now we have two airplanes in Minnesota.”

For more details about rules and regulations regarding fireworks or open-burn permits, you can always get more information here.

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Fireworks banned in two Gallatin County fire districts ahead of holiday weekend