Stoner Creek Fire: A Reminder

By Beacon Staff

A few weeks ago, an idyllic summer was interrupted by a wildfire.

Fortunately, no lives or homes were lost in the Stoner Creek fire located just west of Lakeside along Blacktail Road. That’s in no small part due to the quick response and hard work of the Somers Fire Department, the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) and the U.S. Forest Service.

The Somers Fire Department was quick to respond and their volunteer firefighters could be seen running hoses, setting up equipment and scurrying up and down the mountainside within moments after being dispatched.

While relatively small compared to other wildfires in the region at the time, still 105 acres were burned – and that’s 105 too many. The land is owned by Plum Creek Timber Co., one of the largest private landowners in the United States, and the Flathead National Forest, Swan Lake Ranger District provides fire protection.

For some nearby residents, the Stoner Creek fire may have been a reminder of the Baldy fire, which burned nearly twice as large just to the west back in September, 2009.

Overall, the fire should also be a reminder to appreciate the things and people in our lives – and time to review our insurance policies and emergency plans.

Check Insurance Policy for Wildfire Protection

While the biggest hassle caused by the Stoner Creek fire may have been the buzzing of helicopters, things could have been much worse. Wildfires know no boundaries. And if the weather conditions were just slightly different, especially at night, the outcome of this wildfire could have been quite different and quite worse.

Things could have been even worse if your home insurance or rental insurance policies do not cover damage caused by a wildfire.

From the tally of an unofficial survey, it appears most Lakeside and Somers residences aren’t sure if they have proper homeowner’s insurance or not in case of a wildfire. Specifically, most did not know if their insurance policy covered damage caused by a fire that started outside the home (which may differ from a fire started inside the home).

Every insurance policy is different. And the policy you started with 10 years ago may not provide the same coverage today. So it’s a good idea to specifically confirm what coverage you have in case of a wildfire damaging your home. It’s a good idea to do the same with the insurance for your car, boat, RV, or any other vehicle.

Check Your Emergency Plans

It’s also a good idea to have an emergency plan for yourself and your family.

For example, do you have a designated meeting place? In this day of handy cellphone contacts, do you remember or have a list of phone numbers to call in case of emergency? Do you have important documents in one, easy-to-carry place?

These are all aspects of a good emergency plan – one worth having if you live any place where a wildfire can start (which is just about anywhere in Lakeside and Somers).

You can put together a family emergency plan pretty quickly with help from ready.gov.

So if nothing else, the Stoner Creek fire should be a good reminder.

A reminder to at least check two important things: our insurance policies and our emergency plans. A reminder that we lost relatively little. And a reminder that things could have been much worse.

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