On the same day Gov. Steve Bullock issued an executive order declaring a fire emergency in Montana, crews remained busy in the Flathead Valley, responding in force to a grass fire north of Kalispell.
Crews quickly suppressed a grass fire that emerged Sunday afternoon west of U.S. Highway 93 and north of Kalispell, near Northern Pines Golf Club, according to Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation Spokesperson Ali Ulwelling.
The fire burned between 1 and 3 acres in light grass but was doused by a quick contingent of crews, including five DNRC initial attack engines and two helicopters. Firefighters from Evergreen and West Valley also assisted in the incident along with a spotter plane. The cause of the fire is unknown and remains under investigation.
The rapid response of local resources reflects the heightened fire danger across Montana. July has seen record-breaking temperatures on several days with little precipitation, creating active wildfire behavior. Citing the growing list of active wildfires and extreme fire danger across the state, Bullock on Sunday issued an executive order declaring an emergency.
“Montana is facing extreme fire conditions. Our top priority is ensuring the safety of Montanans, their property, and our communities. This declaration provides additional resources to the brave men and women fighting these fires,” Bullock said in a statement. “As firefighters battle blazes across the state, Montanans must stay vigilant about active fires in their area, obey any evacuation orders, and prevent any actions that might spark new fires.”
The declaration allows Bullock to mobilize additional state resources and the Montana National Guard to combat the fires, as well as expend funds to meet the contingencies and needs that may arise from them.
Prior to signing the executive order, the governor was briefed by the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation and Disaster and Emergency Services at the Department of Military Affairs.
The Lodgepole Complex is currently the state’s largest fire at 200,000 acres in Eastern Montana. The fire is actively burning and has damaged upwards of 15 structures, according to media reports.
The Monahan Fire has burned more than 400 acres between Monahan Mountain and the border of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex at Limestone Pass, about 17 miles northeast of Seeley Lake. Lolo National Forest fire personnel are being monitored the blaze. Several trail closures are in effect in the wilderness. Smoke may be visible in Ovando and Helmville. Three Forest Service administrative cabins are within proximity of the fire and structure protection measures are in place.
Last week a 19-year-old firefighter from Missoula was killed during an incident north of Seeley Lake. Trenton Johnson, a member of a private contract crew, was killed after a tree snag fell on him while fighting the Florence Fire on the Seeley Lake Ranger District.
Click here for a list of large fires burning across the state.