HELENA, — Gov. Steve Bullock issued an executive order declaring a state of fire emergency due to extremely hazardous wildland fire conditions throughout Montana.
The order, issued Thursday evening, allows the governor to spend money and mobilize additional state resources, including the Montana National Guard, to combat the fires.
Above-average temperatures, unpredictable winds, and low humidity are among the factors contributing to extreme fire conditions, according to the governor’s statement. The hot and abnormally dry conditions are predicted to continue through the middle of September, and under current conditions, new wildland fire starts are likely.
On Wednesday, 17 new fires burned over 156 square miles (405 square kilometers) and forced some brief evacuations.
A cold front is expected to bring temporary relief on Monday, with freezing temperatures and a chance of rain and snow in some parts of the state Monday night.
The state’s Department of Natural Resources and Conservation received funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assist with the costs associated with fighting four fires — the Huff Fire near Jordan, the Bobcat Fire burning in Musselshell and Yellowstone Counties, and the Snider and Rice fires burning in Rosebud County. The grants pay 75% of the state’s eligible firefighting costs.