Fire in the Valley

As fire season heats up, the Beacon looks back at a rich local tradition of battling blazes

By Beacon Staff
The smoke cloud from Half Moon Fire in 1929. Courtesy Glacier National Park

Summertime in Montana often means fire season, and this year is poised for a fair amount of blazes across the landscape.

To mark the occasion, the Beacon is looking at the history of a major historic fire, the 1929 Half Moon blaze, the lessons one of the nation’s first hotshots learned from a lifetime on the fireline and the nation’s perennial challenge of funding wildfire suppression.

Remember to stay safe this summer and do your part in preventing wildfires.


Rick Trembath, pictured on July 12, 2017. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Lessons from the Fireline

Fifty years ago, as the West erupted with wildfires, Rick Trembath joined the upstart Flathead hotshot crew and began a life on the fireline

By Dillon Tabish

BIGFORK — 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. »»» READ MORE


The smoke cloud from Half Moon Fire in 1929. Courtesy Glacier National Park

Red Sky at Apgar

In 1929, the Half Moon Fire scorched more than 100,000 acres in the Flathead Valley and Glacier National Park

By Justin Franz

It all began with an unremarkable little spark.

It ended with a wall a fire roaring across three mountain ranges and a river in just two days, leaving more than 100,000 acres of destruction in its wake. »»» READ MORE


The Great Northern Type Two Initial Attack unit walks in line as the Reynolds Creek Fire burns near the Rising Sun General Store in the St. Mary region of Glacier National Park in 2015. Beacon File Photo

Can Congress Solve Wildfire Funding?

The rising costs of fire operations are consuming vast chunks of the Forest Service’s budget

By Tristan Scott

A century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt established the U.S. Forest Service to manage 193 million acres of national forests and grasslands, a mission that today is being consumed by the ever-increasing costs of fighting fires. »»» READ MORE

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