Gianforte Declares Fire Emergency as Dry Conditions Persist

Nearly 1,400 wildfires have burned over 220 square miles as Montana faces abnormally dry conditions

By Associated Press
The Robertson Draw Fire burns south of Red Lodge on June 16, 2021. Courtesy U.S. Forest Service

HELENA — Gov. Greg Gianforte declared Wednesday a statewide fire emergency in Montana as the state faces abnormally dry conditions.

As of Wednesday, nearly 1,400 wildland fires have burned over 220 square miles (570 square kilometers) in Montana. Of those around 78% have been human caused, according to the governor’s office.

The emergency declaration allows the governor to mobilize the Montana National Guard to assist in fire suppression efforts. It also allows Gianforte to activate the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, a nationally adopted mutual aid agreement that allows states to share resources with one another during times of emergency or disaster.

“Montana faces critical fire conditions that pose significant threats to our communities, infrastructure, first responders, and way of life,” Gianforte said in a statement. “As our firefighters battle active fires across the state with more to come, this executive order helps ensure they have the suppression resources, supplies, and fuel they need to safely and aggressively respond.”

The governor urged Montana residents and visitors to follow local fire restrictions and recreate safely to avoid starting wildfires.

The hot and abnormally dry conditions are expected to continue through August, and new wildland fire starts are likely throughout much of the state.