A new fire is burning an estimated 12,000 acres in the Bears Paw Mountains near Havre. Yellowstone Public Radio’s Nate Hegyi is in Havre. He spoke with YPR’s Brie Ripley.
(Transcription by Montana Public Radio's Maxine Speier)
Brie Ripley: Hi Nate.
Nate Hegyi: Hey, how you doing, Brie?
BR: I’m good, thanks. What’s the fire looking like right now?
NH: Well, it’s still zero percent contained, but fire managers say they’ve made some progress on it in part because the winds haven’t been as bad as yesterday. Yesterday it blew up from around 1,000 acres to 8,000 acres. It’s currently at 12,000 acres. So the winds have not been as bad today. However, as I’m talking to you, they’re starting to pick up a little bit. There’s still a Red Flag warning in effect until tomorrow, Friday, at 9pm. Kind of the feeling here is folks are a little stressed out still. It’s a little ramshackle, but they feel like they’ve made some good progress today.
BR: How many people are fighting the fire?
NH: There’s about 125 people fighting the fire and now most of them are volunteer firefighters or locals along with a few DNRC folks from a Type 3 team and some county and tribal officials. And the big thing is that a couple days ago they asked for an incident management team but they still haven’t received one and they say that’s in part because resources are just really really stretched right now across Montana and so while they’ve got a request in for an incident management team they’re still waiting and they don’t know if or when they’re going to get one.
BR: Anything else that we should know, Nate, about the East Fork Fire in Havre?
NH: Yeah, actually. They’re going to be continuing to dig some fire lines tonight. Some of these volunteer firefighters are hoping they’re going to be able to take a break and get some rest. They’ve been fighting this fire almost straight since Wednesday. Again, hoping that the winds won’t pick up, but as I’m talking to you, as I said earlier, the winds are just starting to blow. And so, yeah, we’ll see how the night progresses.
BR: You know on workdays we are in constant communication with each other and I remember from earlier you sent me a message that said a fire manager had told you that there were over 40 fires sparked just yesterday across Montana?
NH: Yeah, 40 fires sparked yesterday. We’re going to stay on top of this and keep bringing you coverage.
BR: Thanks, Nate.
NH: Yeah, have a good one, Brie.