Wildfires

Rowdy Muir starting fighting fires on the front lines when he was 27.

Wildfire season is ramping up across our region. There are all sorts of people involved in waiting, watching and fighting them -- people you might not expect. We’re profiling some of them in a series, Faces Behind The Fires.


Fire experts say this season could be big for wildfires in our region. Our Mountain West New Bureau takes you behind the scenes with stories about the people who protect our communities, land and wildlife during wildlfire season. 

This story is about the people who rush into the smoke not to save people or structures, but … animals.  

For years, Western lawmakers have been trying to change the way we fight wildfires, or at least the way the government funds such work. Now, they may finally get that wish. Congress just passed a measure that would do just that, creating an emergency fund of $20 billion for the Forest Service to fight wildfires over the next decade. It's part of a sweeping new spending deal that the President signed on Friday.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has been pushing for years to make this change.

Earth Network.news

The National Weather Service in Billings has selected drought and the resulting wildfire activity as the top weather event for 2017. It probably comes as no surprise to residents east of the Continental Divide.

NWS Meteorologist Tom Frieders said parts of Montana are still experiencing drought. He said at this time last year most of the state was in pretty good shape.

Nate Hegyi / YPR

Montana’s first-ever climate assessment says this past summer may be a vision of the state’s future due to climate change. 

“Montana is going to get warmer and the warming is going to be greater than in a lot of parts of the United States and the world,” says Cathy Whitlock, the report's lead author. The climate assessment was released today.


Governor Steve Bullock’s office said today that state agencies must cut their budgets an additional 10 percent, in order to avoid a $227 million budget shortfall within two years.

Those cuts would be in addition to spending reductions that were triggered earlier this month by low revenue results, plus previous cuts to many state agencies included in the two year budget passed last spring.

Montana Legislature

The largest wildfire in the U.S. this year burned in Montana, decimating 423 miles of fertile rangeland, and with it, the livelihoods of many Garfield and Petroleum County ranchers.

Republican State Representative Bill Harris of Winnet was one of them. Harris documented much of the disaster that destroyed his ranchland on his personal Facebook. He’s pointing the finger at a nearby Wilderness Study Area (WSA) managed by the Bureau of Land Management as contributing to overall fire devastation.

Pole Creek Fire Exceeds 3,000 Acres In 3 Days

Aug 7, 2017
Wyoming InciWeb

The Pole Creek Fire is estimated to be about 3,169 acres and only 5 percent contained. The fire was discovered last Friday and is fueled by heavy timber and grass.

An emergency area closure is in effect to allow firefighting resources to safely perform their job and provide for public safety. The closure includes all roads and trails as well as adjacent forest service lands from the southern boundary of the Bridger-Teton National Forest to just north of the fire perimeter.

The National Interagency Fire Center provides information on wildfires burning across the United States.