Montana News

Friday, February 16, 2018

Fire departments get grants after worst wildfire season in a century

Several local fire departments have received cash assistance after fighting numerous fires in what is reported as the worst Montana wildfire season in 100 years. Plain Green Loans, the online lending company of the Chippewa Cree Tribe of Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation, and the Montana Community Foundation have announced grants they provided to fire departments in the area. Fire departments responded to multiple fires, including the July Fire that burned 11,699 acres in the Little Rocky Mountains and the East Fork Fire that burned 21,896 acres in the Bear Paw Mountains. Plain Green said in a press release the company donated $30,000 to the Rocky Boy Volunteer Fire Department, while the Montana Community Foundation said in a release the Montana Wildfire Relief Fund the foundation created in partnership with the Montana Television Network had made grants to eight local fire departments.
Havre Daily News

Cause of fire at Marion storage units still unknown

Investigators say they still don’t know how a fire was started that destroyed a storage-unit building in Marion. The structure fire was reported at around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday at Marion Security Storage off U.S. 2, west of Kalispell. According to Marion Fire Department Fire Chief Katie Mast, the contents of 30 units were a total loss, but no injuries resulted from the fire. She said the units were fully engulfed upon arrival, and the blaze took three agencies approximately nine hours to extinguish. Multiple units contained ammunition that discharged during the fire and one contained four 100-pound propane tanks that self-ventilated, Mast said. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, she said.
Kalispell Daily Interlake

Great Falls Emergency Services trains for disasters

On Wednesday, 17 people lost their lives and 14 people were injured in a school shooting in Florida. Great Falls Emergency Services General Manager Justin Grohs says first responders in the Great Falls area are always training for a mass casualty situation. "We are all in agreement that we need to work together and do these exercise to make sure we can work seamlessly if a bigger event does occur,” Grohs said. But they also train on the hands on techniques they might use in the field. "Over the last few months, all emergency response agencies have been making sure we have the right equipment with the right training and technicians and protocols to manage severe bleeding,” Grohs said. Grohs says they have always known controlling bleeding is an important skill but recent events made it a priority. “When someone does have severe bleeding it does not take long to empty your inner blood volume out of your body,” Grohs said. Personnel with great falls emergency's service recently went through a bleeding control instructor course, as known as bcon, taught by Ron Wenzel.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Follow Up: Arson crews investigate Marion storage facility fire

Arson investigators were out Wednesday at the scene of Tuesday’s storage facility fire in Marion. It happened midday off Highway 2. The owner of Marion Security Storage, Sherry Whirry, confirmed all 30 storage units were lost in the fire. “I thought it was a joke when the manager called to tell me the units were on fire,” said Whirry, who is based in Kalispell. Propane and a lot of ammunition were found in one of the units, according the Marion Fire Department. Jes Romero, a customer of the storage facility, says he lost everything for a new house he was planning to build in the area. “I lost all my stuff, I lost really nice furniture, I lost paintings, things that I bought in Iraq, I lost military appreciation plaques that were given to me -- those are the things I can't get back,” he said.
KECI-TV NBC 13 Missoula

Missoula Rural Fire Department increases public protection rating

Good news for homeowners in Missoula County: they may be eligible for lower property insurance costs because of the Missoula Rural Fire District's improved protection rating. The public protection classification (PPC) collects information on municipal fire protection in cities throughout the United States. Ratings are given on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 representing "exemplary public protection." A multitude of things go into the rating, including staffing, training programs and water supply, among other things, according to MRFD Fire Chief Chris Newman. A property's distance from a fire station also goes into the rating. Any property within 5 road miles of a fire station will now have a PPC rating of 4. Properties beyond 5 road miles from a fire station are automatically given a 10. "We were fortunate enough to be able to go through a re-rate with the regional person with the Insurance Services Office," Newman said. "We did a lot of things working towards the goal of improving this ISO rating and then we got the good news as of Feb. 1."
Missoula Missoulian

Kalispell family loses home to fire on the coldest day of the year

According to the NFPA nearly 400 thousand homes are destroyed each year due to structure fires. This is now the case for Alisa Gamma. Gamma was simply following the routine of a normal day when looked outside her window to see her family home of over twenty years was a slowly being engulfed in flames. Those flames turned into a fire that resulted in what i s now a total loss. Alisa spoke to our Jeremy Jenkins about the first moments after the fire. She said "It’s just a realization of total loss to realize all you have is the clothes on your back and the vehicle and thank god we all came out with our lives but we did lose a number of pets… that was horrific because there was nothing we could do to rescue them.

City of Belgrade moves closer to solving fire quandary

The city of Belgrade is close to seeing a draft for a piece of legislation to change a requirement for the city to provide it’s own fire services once it hits a population of 10,000, which city officials say could happen by 2020. Ted Barkley, city manger, is leading the effort to change the law and said he’s been meeting with fire chiefs, firefighters and city mangers to get their ideas on what a change should look like. Currently the city contracts with Central Valley Fire District for its fire services because city officials said it’s a lot cheaper than having to provide its own fire department. The fire district spreads the costs for fire services beyond the city’s borders, which makes it cheaper than having residents within the city pony up the money for the services. The local government interim committee is charged with studying and drafting legislation related to fire services. Barkley has been to meetings with the committee and said there has not been a lot of resistance to the change, but he expects more concerns would be raised as the fix gets closer.
Belgrade News

City College students in Billings restore truck for volunteer firefighters

City College at MSU Billings held a reception Tuesday to present a newly restored fire truck to the Park City Volunteer Fire Department in the Automobile Collision Repair and Refinishing Technology program lab. The reception recognized the staff and students involved in this service-learning project, the Park City Volunteer Fire Department and community partners on the project. “We wanted to give back to the fire department for their hard work and firefighting efforts over the last year,” instructor Steve Wodrich said. “It’s how City College says thank you.” Eight students in the collision repair and refinishing class worked during the fall 2017 semester to restore a Type 4 wildland truck for the Park City Volunteer Fire Department. The department purchased the truck in Washington state to upgrade its fleet of wildland trucks, but determined it needed a new paint job.

Update: Fire chief says duplex fire likely caused by a person

A fire that gutted an upstairs portion of a vacant duplex was probably caused by a person but it’s not clear if it was intentional, Fire Chief Jeff Miller said Wednesday. Firefighters were called to the two-story duplex at 520 S. Dakota St. at 4:55 a.m. Tuesday and saw flames coming from the second floor. It took about half an hour to put out. Nobody was injured. “We know it wasn’t an accident from any kind of utility because there were no utilities (on),” Miller said. “It was human-caused but until we find out more information, we don’t have anything to suggest it was intentional.” A resident who lives nearby said Tuesday that the duplex has been vacant for years and Miller says that appears to be the case. The owner told authorities it had a history of people getting inside “and it sounded like this place has been abandoned for a number of years,” Miller said.
Butte Montana Standard

Sign up to subscribe to custom state Daily Dispatch emails for free

click to subscribe