Thursday, August 2

Top 4 US Fires in Montana

The wildfire burning just 10 miles from Helena, Montana blew up from 20,000+ acres on Tuesday to 31,000 acres by Wednesday. The fires in Montana and other states around the west are getting national coverage, though in my opinion, not enough is being said about how wildfire is an important part of the natural cycle and the fact that some of these fires are being "allowed" to burn is a perfectly reasonable way to manage the fires. If the fires were put out now, the threatened areas would eventually burn anyway -- and often will burn even more drastically becasue of the natural buildup of fuels.

The New York Times reported on Wednesday:

Firefighting crews in Montana battled the four top priority wildfires in the West on Wednesday, blazes that have led to the evacuation of hundreds of people.

In a normal year, Wednesday would have been the beginning of the summer fire season in Montana, but drought has put most of the state two to three weeks ahead of schedule and more hot, dry weather is forecast.

It's going to be a long season,'' said Warren Bielenberg, fire information officer for the Lewis and Clark National Forest in northwest Montana.

The No. 1 priority for firefighters Wednesday in the West was a blaze in the Gates of the Mountains Wilderness north of Helena that had blackened 31,238 acres, or about 49 square miles. Residents of 60 homes southeast of Wolf Creek were evacuated Tuesday, adding to residents of at least 60 other homes that were evacuated earlier.

The fire was moving north toward Holter Lake, a popular recreation area, and through a wildlife management area. It was about 25 percent contained but was expanding Wednesday toward evacuated areas to the southeast, where hand crews, aircraft and bulldozers worked to build lines and keep it in the wilderness ..."

To all who have written in concern for our safety in Helena, I just want to reassure you that we are fine -- the fire is 10 miles from the city and so far no one's home has burned. The firefighters are doing an outstanding job of protecting people's homes and animals. Still, your prayers are appreciated, here and all over the west where drought is making the 2007 fire season so much worse. Thank you! -- Maureen


Bitterroot said...

Hello my dear M - I'm still checking all my favorite places every day, including Helena. It's true what you say about wildfire being a way to clear out understory, etc. and this is a healthy, natural annual process.

But it's the global warming aspect of it that bothers me. The parched earth and lack of moisture. There's not been enough snowpack in recent years to nourish and protect the earth.

In past decades, fires in Montana would start every summer, but their incidence and number were much lower. It was rare to have the smoke settle for weeks on end over hundreds of miles of territory.

OK, off my soapbox now!

Much love, thinking of you every day,


maureen said...

Hey, EO -- you can get up on a soapbox on my blog anytime you want to! I agree with everything you added and would have written much more along those lines in my post except I wanted to keep it sorta short.

It's only been in the last two or three years that the incidence and number of fires in Montana, and other western states, has increased so that one fire is on top of another on top of another ... no long breaks between fires. August and September have become months of smoky air. And this year, our fire season started three weeks earlier than ever! So that means 3 more weeks of smoke to breath.

Parched is a good word to describe the earth out here now. Saying parched calls to mind thirst ... and that's exactly what it is: the earth is so, so thirsty! So many pines are dying all over the Rockies because of the long term drought.

Ok off my soapbox. Thanks for the discussion. I value your thoughts and observations, my friend.

back to work. going nuts here trying to finish things up before we leave. hugs to you and the T

Bitterroot said...

Hello my dear M - thanks for the response. It's good to be able to talk about this. I got a call from my cousin today. The Jocko Lakes fire, which started just yesterday, is causing evacuations near our cabin in the Swan Valley. My cousin lives on a ranch outside of Missoula, and is readying extra supplies of water should the area around his home burst into flame from one of these spontaneous combustions. With fires expanding 5000 acres in one day, the whole situation is quite frightening.

pepektheassassin said...

So glad to hear you're okay!

Anonymous said...

Hi. My name is Lara Berch. I have just launched a new website with step by step art tutorials. I was wondering if it's possible to exchange links with you.
Thank you very much for your time.

maureen said...

Hi Pepek ... I just now realized you had left a comment. I don't know where my brain's been for the last few weeks -- my body has been away from the computer alot, though. ;-) Anyway, thanks for your concern. We are okay, though I think almost everyone in our city would be able to say this has been the worst summer for excess heat and smoke from wildfires. It's enough to make anyone cranky!

Lara, I made a link to you in the sidebar (blogs I like) .... thanks for making contact. I do llike your tutorials -- I'm sure they're really helpful for lots of people.