Montana News

Friday, January 17, 2020

Big Sky Fire Chief William Farhat to receive fond farewell

On Friday, Jan. 24, Big Sky Fire Station #1 will host an open house appreciation party for Chief William Farhat’s committed service to the Big Sky community over the last eight years. Chief Farhat has been fighting fires for nearly 30 years in four different states, and in Big Sky since 2011, when he took over the position as BSFD Fire Chief. The experienced first responder is set to become the Fire Marshal for the Orange County Public Schools in Orlando, Florida, overseeing fire safety and programs in the eighth largest district in the U.S. with 215,000 students, 2,500 employees and over 200 schools. “It’s a great transition. This is my 31st year of being a first responder. That’s a lot of years of waking up in the middle of the night or working on weekends and holidays,” Chief Farhat said. “I’m looking forward to more work/life balance.”
Explore Big Sky

Olney Fire Department dwindles to five volunteers

When the alarm sounds at the Olney Fire Department, just five local responders receive that call to action. The remote fire hall is in desperate need of additional volunteers to keep its operation running, serving the rural hamlet of 200 residents along with travelers on nearby U.S. 93. It’s not the first time they’ve been short-handed. About a year ago, the department shuttered its ambulance service due to a lack responders, and Fire Chief Jordan Carr said volunteer numbers on the fire side have plummeted to as low as two, begging the question — what’s next for the department’s future? Carr, the fire chief of six months, hopes to get the department going in the right direction.
Kalispell Daily Interlake

Billings leaders talk safety and need for more resources

City officials said Thursday Billings faces challenges and needs quicker response times for emergency calls. A meeting at the Billings Public Library Royal Johnson Community Room gave the public a chance to comment and ask about safety issues. More police officers and firefighters would make Billings safer, according to city leaders. The city handed out a questionnaire and the last question was: “Are you in favor of increasing investments into public safety?” Chief Rich St. John said violent crime and property crime made a big jump in 2011 because of methamphetamine. He said on average, nine officers can handle five to six calls per hour. However, in 2018, the police received about 10 calls per hour. Billings Fire Chief Bill Rash also talked about response times and said an eighth fire station, in the Heights, would help throughout the city.
KTVQ-TV CBS 2 Billings

No injuries reported in Great Falls house fire

Emergency crews responded to a house fire just south of Great Falls on Thursday. The fire was at house on the 900 block of Franklin Avenue, just east of Lower River Road, several miles south of city limits. Several fire departments were called to the scene, including Great Falls Fire Rescue and Malmstrom Air Force Base, and utility crews were also asked to respond. The fire was reported at about 9:40 a.m. on Thursday. The Salvation Army also sent its "Sally One" food truck to provide refreshments to the firefighters. There were no reports of any injuries, and no word yet on the cause. The extent and value of damage has not yet been determined.
KRTV CBS 3 Great Falls

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Butte remembers the 125 anniversary of a warehouse explosion that killed 58 people

VIDEO: The explosion at the Kenyon-Connell warehouse 125 years ago was so massive it was heard all the way in Willow Creek. "Every window in the area was shattered and it threw debris and all those rabble heads and pieces of metal and shrapnel up to the area of the courthouse. There was even a four-foot saw blade that landed in Rocker," said Jim McCarthy, who is part of an organization raising funds to build a memorial commemorating the disaster. When it was over, 58 people were killed, including 13 of the 15 members of Butte's Fire Department. "That's pretty major to have your whole fire department wiped out in one shot, that's pretty devastating, but to have 44 citizens rush in and try to help the firemen and have them be impacted too is pretty significant," said McCarthy.
KXLH-TV 9 Helena

Crews battle two-alarm Kalispell house fire

VIDEO: Crews battled a two-alarm fire in Kalispell on Wednesday evening. The Kalispell Fire Department was called out to a home in the 1200 block of 4th Avenue East shortly before 7:15 p.m. on reports of smoke inside a residence. Firefighters arrived at the scene and found smoke and fire issuing coming from the structure and it was determined that due to cold weather -- and the danger to other nearby structures -- that additional manpower needed, according to a news release. Firefighters began an exterior, defensive, fire attack and once the bulk of the fire was knocked down, crews moved inside the home to continue efforts to extinguish the fire. All of the occupants of the structure -- a single-family residential house converted into separated living areas for multiple rental occupants –- were accounted for and no injuries were reported.
KPAX-TV 8 Missoula

Missoula firefighters rescue dog from icy Clark Fork River

Members of the Missoula Fire Department rescued a dog caught in the frigid waters of the Clark Fork River. A post on their Facebook page said that Missoula Firefighter Malcom Edwards and his entire crew at Station 2 responded to a call for help Wednesday evening after a Newfoundland found itself in the icy waters during a walk with its family. The family also posted a message on social media, saying that "Leonard" decided to go swimming while out on a walk. It went on to say that the dog couldn't get out of the river, because of the ice shelf. A bystander called 911 and the "amazing Missoula Fire Department rescued our Leonard."

Ravalli County residents urged to sign up for new emergency alert system

VIDEO: The system is less than a week old, but already more than 1,000 residents have signed up for Ravalli County's new emergency alert system and with the areas past experiences with fires, floods and snow local authorities are hoping a majority of people will follow suit. While the Bitterroot is a beautiful place to live, residents can also be on the edge of danger -- especially with the potential to be surrounded by wildfire. That's been a problem for emergency managers, with a population that may still be using land lines, or trying to get a cell signal. "A significant amount of people that do not have a landline," noted Ravalli County Sheriff Steve Holton. "So, they operate just off their cell phones, of electronic or smart devices of some kind." That's where the new Hyper-Reach system comes in, replacing an earlier system that had a number of problems.
KPAX-TV 8 Missoula

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