Gianforte seeks federal disaster declaration for Richard Spring fire

Posted at 4:38 PM, Sep 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-17 18:38:13-04

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte is asking President Joe Biden to declare a major disaster for the Richard Spring fire to bring additional federal aid to southeastern Montana.

In a letter to Biden dated Thursday, Gianforte wrote that Rosebud County and the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in particular need more help, largely because of damage to public infrastructure such as power lines, utilities and fencing.

The Richard Spring fire burned more than 170,000 acres in August and forced the evacuation of Lame Deer, Muddy Cluster and other surrounding neighborhoods.

Last month, the state received a FEMA grant to pay for 75 percent of the state's costs of fighting the fire, but Gianforte said more money was needed to cover damage costs.

The Richard Spring fire ignited Aug. 8, and the cause was determined to be an underground coal seam. It was Montana's largest wildfire during a busy fire season of unusually hot and dry temperatures.

Read the governor's full letter here.