Montana News

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Firefighter killed by falling tree in the Lolo National Forest identified

Authorities have released the name of the Missoula firefighter who died on Wednesday while battling a wildfire. The Missoula County Sheriff's Office reports that Trenton M. Johnson, 19, of Missoula died after a tree snag fell on him. The incident happened at around 5 p.m. while Johnson was fighting the Florence Fire north of Seeley Lake. Johnson was flown to Missoula but was later pronounced deceased at a local hospital. He was an employee of Grayback Forestry. The Sheriff's Office is investigating the details surrounding the fatal event, according to spokeswoman Brenda Bassett.
KPAX-TV 8 Missoula

New fire evades Lincoln initial attack

Several small wildfires added acreage Wednesday as warm and gusty conditions returned to western Montana. A lightning strike from Tuesday night’s storm ignited the Arrastra fire on the Lincoln Ranger District. It’s now consumed 150 to 200 acres. A 30-person volunteer crew responded to the initial report of smoke on Wednesday morning and nearly had the fire surrounded by ground line, but windy conditions allowed it to escape containment. Forest Service officials plan to fully suppress the fire as soon as resources can be assembled. A community meeting in Lincoln’s Hooper Park is set for 7 p.m. Thursday.
Butte Montana Standard

Boy gets probation, restitution for Helena High arson

A teenage boy apologized in Helena youth court Wednesday for his role in a $3 million arson fire at Helena High School last year, before a judge sentenced him to probation and restitution. The boy was 13 when he entered the school with two teenage girls and started fires in a custodian closet and lit posters in a classroom. The fire closed the entire school for two days and the damaged wing of the building for three months. The boy’s probation officer testified Wednesday that after moving out of Helena, the boy was under better supervision and in closer contact with more family members. The boy was doing well and staying out of trouble, the officer said.
Helena Independent Record

Woman arrested for arson in Anaconda

Anaconda police arrested a 48-year-old woman for arson in connection with a fire that took place at a residence over the weekend in Anaconda. Kellie Olson was seen at a house that burned in the 200 block of East Front Street in Anaconda Saturday, Police Chief Tim Barkell told The Montana Standard. Police found her and arrested her the next day after she allegedly returned to the house. Barkell said that Olson is a “person of interest” in a fire which gutted the historic 1894 Shields Mansion at 420 Main St. on Friday night.
Butte Montana Standard

Wildland Firefighters battling Crying Fire in Petroleum County

According to the Lewistown Interagency Dispatch Center, Wildland Firefighters were called to the Crying Fire located in Petroleum County west of the Musselshell River and about 30 miles northeast of Winnett on Wednesday. The Crying Fire was reported mid-day and has burned approximately 3,200 acres in grass, sage and timber on Bureau of Land Management, Private, State and Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge lands.

Firefighters responding to fire South of Elliston

Representatives with the U.S. Forest Service say a new fire has broken out South of Elliston. The Limburger fire is burning in an area north of Kading Cabin. Few details are known about the fire. The fire is burning in a remote and inaccessible area. Kathy Bushnell with the USFS says a crew is scheduled to fly over the fire and assess its size, Any firefighters would have to hike into the area to fight it. MTN has a reporter en route and will update this story when more information is available.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Wildfires burning west of Missoula

The Burdette and Sunrise fires have been pouring out smoke that's visible wet of Missoula. The Sunrise fire, which is burning about one mile east of Sunrise Mountain and 10 miles south of Superior, has torched about 20 acres. There are 20 firefighters battling the blaze as well as a heavy air tanker and three helicopters. The Burdette fire has burned around 30 acres nine miles southeast of Tarkio. Fire managers have conducted reconnaissance of the fire to assess fire behavior, size, and access points. Retardant drops have been used to check fire growth. No structures or property are currently threatened by these fires which are both are expected to continue to produce visible smoke during afternoon periods.
KPAX-TV 8 Missoula

Fire near Lincoln causes road closures, Highway 200 traffic delays

An emergency order has been issued for some Forest Service Roads in the Lincoln District near the Park Creek Fire. Fire crews continued to battle the fire a few miles north of Lincoln on Tuesday. The fire started on Friday by lightning and is still zero percent contained. It has burned a total of 1,600 acres, according to fire officials. The Fire grew more than 1,000 acres on Sunday night. A Type 2 Incident Management Team was brought in to combat the fire in the Lincoln Ranger District. DNRC and Lincoln Rural Fire personnel will continue to assist on the fire. Besides the Type 2 IMT, three 20 person crews, four fire engines, miscellaneous heavy equipment, and two helicopters. Total personnel working on the incident is 138. Support from aircraft and local fire engines is available, as needed.
KBZK-TV Bozeman 7

DNRC says humans cause almost half of Montana wildfires

Lightning sparked several fires over the weekend, but fire officials say people can cause more than their fair share of wildfires. The Forest Service says up to half of all wildfires are human caused in Montana, and if the public can eliminate human-caused fires it could save money, resources and lives. Fire officials with the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation say campfires are one of the biggest culprits of human-caused wildfires. "Please, we’re asking you as fire officials, it really helps us out when we're trying to take care of (all) these lightning ignitions," said DNRC spokesman Jordan Koppen.
NBC Montana

Fire burns crops, pasture in Chouteau County

A combine is the suspected cause of a large fire that burned 1,200 acres of cropland and pasture Tuesday in Chouteau County. James Dahlen, assistant chief of the Chester Fire Department, the first to arrive, said the fire occurred on multiple properties between Chester and Fort Benton. "There was some loss of crop and pasture and a little loss of fence," he said. The fire started in a harvest field during cutting. "We're assuming it was a combine fire," Dahlen said. Firefighters from Fort Benton, Conrad and Knees also responded.
Great Falls Tribune

Fifty years ago, as the West erupted with wildfires, Rick Trembath joined the upstart Flathead hotshot crew

Before humping it up forested mountains and swinging a Pulaski, before their baptism by fire, just about every wildland firefighter embarks from a simple beginning like the spark of a flame. It also starts with a pair of hardy, hard-bottom leather boots. At 69, Rick Trembath has owned 12 pairs of White’s in his lifetime, and like an old friend, he can remember when and where he was introduced to his first pair. It was 50 years ago, the summer of 1967. Trembath arrived in the Flathead Valley as a 19-year-old wide-eyed forestry student from Minnesota, hired as a seasonal firefighter for the Flathead National Forest hotshot crew.
Flathead Beacon

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