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East Coast crews arrive in Great Falls to help fight Montana fires

Posted at 9:50 PM, Aug 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-17 00:11:54-04

GREAT FALLS – A 737 jet landed in Great Falls on Thursday afternoon, carrying 100 firefighters from the Eastern U.S.

“Once we had a crew together we were very excited to come out and support fire suppression out here in Montana,” said John Neely, who is with the White Mountain and Green Mountain Finger Lakes National Forest from New Hampshire and Maine.

The men and women will be splitting up and going to three fires across Montana.

The Goldstone Fire and Wigwam Fire in the Beaverhead Deer Lodge National Forest, and the Sterling Complex Fire in the Kootenai National Forest.

“We’ve reached a point where we have maxed out our local resources, so when we do that we call in resources from other areas from other states to help us out,” said Kathy Bushnell, spokeswoman for the Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest.

These firefighters came prepared: “There’s a system in place where we get a lot of information about issues with fuels, fire behavior. That’s all stuff that is given to us in a briefing,” Neely said.

But there’s one thing for sure, whether you a Montanan at heart or from out of state, the men and women become family.

“You really do build up trust in folks you are working with and trust in the incident management team you are working for, and it’s a good bonding experience,” Neely said.

The firefighters are expected to stay here for two weeks, or longer if necessary.

Reporting by Elizabeth Transue for MTN News