CASCADE — Fire departments around the state haven't seen many significant fires in terms of size or acreage lost, but they are seeing an increase in the amount of fires. There are several large fires, including the Trail Ridge Fire in Ravalli and Beaverhead counties, which is at more than 15,000 acres.
“Overall fires this year have been up. Luckily, we haven't had the big fires like we had last year with the Harris Mountain Fire,” Cascade VFD Chief Eric Tilleman said. “But county wide, we've seen a lot of lightning strikes. We've seen a lot of equipment fires.”
Fire season is in full swing, which isn't unexpected, but fire officials are saying current conditions aren't looking good for the future. Tilleman says that a mixture of fuel abundance, low moisture, and high wind is creating a fiery recipe. The latest data shows Western Montana at an above normal potential for a significant wildfire.
This year, more than 1,700 wildfires have burned almost 118,000 acres across Montana. There are 42 active fires. According to the DNRC, nearly 50% were started by humans, about 30% naturally caused, and about 20% undetermined.
The increase call load is being managed so far by local fire departments, but they are always looking for more volunteers, especially now that they are predicting current trends to not go away anytime soon.
“There's a lot of impact that could still happen right in the next couple of months if anybody's wanting to volunteer at any of the local fire departments. I know all the departments in Cascade County are always looking for people to come and help. Look at their Facebook pages, call them, and you can find out when their meetings are at. We need some good people that want to help their community.”
Visit the MT Fire Info website for current wildfire information.
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