FireSafe Montana is a private, non-profit organization coordinating and supporting a statewide coalition of diverse interests working together to help Montanans make their homes, neighborhoods, and communities fire safe.
Congratulations and Thanks For Excellence in Wildland Fuel Mitigation Work-2016!!!
From left to right, Pat McKelvey of FireSafe Montana, presents contractors Ed Jungers, J&E Contracting, Seeley lake, MT, and Ernie Hals awards for ‘Excellence in Wildland Fuels Mitigation Projects- 2016.’ Not pictured, but part of the crews receiving the award, are Darin Woodside and Jim Thomas. Great job guys!!!
[NOTE: FireSafe Montana is a non-partisan, non-profit, organization that does not represent or advance any particular political viewpoint or political party or endorse any candidates running for political office. The below opinion article represents one viewpoint on how to address the issue of wildfires in Montana. FireSafe Montana welcomes diverse opinions on this important topic. If you or your organization would like to respond to the below opinion article, please contact the Executive Director at FireSafe Montana.]
A guest opinion article written by Dale Bosworth, David A. Mihalic and Ryan Zinke, originally printed in the Helena Independent Record on August 24, 2016 describes some of the complexities involved in addressing wildfires in Montana, including the issue of land management. For the full article, please click on: We have a land management problem.
InciWeb has announced a ‘red flag’ warning today (8/30/16) for the ‘Copper King’ Fire that has now burned nearly 25,000 acres in the Lolo National Forest northeast of Thompson Falls. This warning says to expect low humidity, and an unstable air mass, and scattered, dry thunderstorms by late afternoon into the evening
Similarly, a ‘red flag’ warning has been issued for 8/30/16 for the area of the Roaring Lion Fire in the Bitterroot National Forest near Hamilton. This fire has claimed 14 homes and the life of one person (a sixty-four year old man who tragically suffered a heart attack during mandatory evacuation), and has burned approximately 8500 acres. The warning is from noon to 9:00 PM 8/30/16 due to strong winds (20-30 MPH with gusts of 35-55 MPH near expected thunderstorms).
These active fires are stark reminders that Montana’s fire season is still ongoing and that Montanans should remain vigilant and promptly report smoke or wildfires by calling 911. For more information, please visit the ‘Smoke & Fire Reports’ link on FireSafe Montana’s home page.
The North Fork Landowners’ Association held its yearly ‘Firewise Day’ on July 13, 2016 at Sondreson Community Hall, Whale Creek, in north Flathead County preceding their Summer Interlocal meeting. As usual, the event was well organized, informative, and well attended. As a result of prior experiences with wildfires in the North Fork, landowners are acutely aware of the need to be prepared for wildfire season. The ‘Red Bench’ Fire of 1988, as well as the Wedge Canyon and Robert Fires in 2003, in particular, still live vividly in the memories of fire experts and ‘old timers’ in the North Fork Community as vivid examples of why everyone should have a plan for what to do in the event of a wildfire.
In 1998, a comprehensive fire management plan for the North Fork of the Flathead River was created through collaboration between landowners and federal, state, and local fire experts. Today, the North Fork is a model for what communities can do to reduce wildfire risks by becoming ‘firewise’ through strategic fuels reduction projects, and by organizing landowners about the best ways to protect themselves, their families, and their community from wildfire risks.
Allen Chrisman welcomed the group and introduced the speakers for the day’s event. Angela Mallon of Montana DNRC discussed the importance of analyzing the effectiveness of fuels reduction projects as part of a landowner’s wildfire protection plan with a presentation entitled ‘One Size Does Not Fit All’.
The group then watched an outstanding NFPA sponsored video featuring Jack Cohen’s Your Home Can Survive a Wildfire, and answered questions about individual concerns. This 13 minute video (see link above) is a ‘must see’ for anyone interested in the science of wildfires, and how to best protect a home situated in the forest.
James Brower, of Flathead County EMS, discussed the importance of having an evacuation plan as part of over-all wildfire preparedness. Every family living in the forest should have a written wildfire evacuation plan that’s periodically reviewed and discussed among family members which includes a plan for what to take on short notice and that includes a designated meeting place in the event of a wildfire.
Brower also noted that since it takes a long time for a structure engine to reach the North Fork, it’s up to landowners to make their homes more defensible. He also cautioned that engines won’t enter overgrown driveways due to firefighter life safety concerns. [Note: FireSafe Montana fully supports this position, as well as the position that community fuels reduction projects help create a safer ‘work place’ for firefighters, and allows them greater flexibility. For more information about this, please visit the FSM Home Page].
Andy Huntsberger, Fire Management Office for the Flathead Forest’s Hungry Horse-Glacier View District for USFS, discussed the forecast for the 2016 wildfire season, and Bill Swope of Flathead Economic Partners discussed current grant opportunities for those interested in removing hazardous fuels from their property, as well as the progress being made on the Trail Creek Ingress/Egress project which is nearing completion. When completed, this will make travel much safer on that road as a primary escape route from the upper North Fork.
Molly Shepherd did the final ‘wrap up’ of the days event before the meeting was adjourned for a pot luck lunch. Please click here for Molly Shepherd’s detailed report on the event prepared for the North Fork Landowners’ Association.
The North Fork Landowners’ Association’s ‘Firewise Day’ is an outstanding example of what communities and landowners can do to help mitigate wildfire risks by organizing and by becoming better informed about wildfires. Congratulations to all involved!!!
North Fork landowners listen to Bill Swope of Flathead Economic Partners (middle) and Andy Huntsberger, Fire Management Officer for the Flathead Forest’s Hungry Horse-Glacier View District for USFS (bottom) talk about hazardous fuels grant opportunities and the forecast for the 2016 wildfire season.