By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest
While the southeast and Atlantic coast states are in the midst of the 2019 hurricane season, across the continent, residents in the northwest are bracing for the annual outbursts of wildfires.
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State of Emergency Declared in Missoula County Due to 'Very High' Fire Danger
As a precaution, Missoula County commissioners declared a state of emergency because of increasing fire danger, NBC Montana said. Officials explained that prolonged wind and above average temperatures combined to bring the fire danger into the “very high” category.
Firefighter Injured at Beeskove Fire North of Missoula
One firefighter was injured Tuesday afternoon at the Beeskove Fire in the Rattlesnake area north of Missoula, NBC Montana reported.
“Around 4:45 p.m. crews requested an emergency medical evacuation for the firefighter, who had a lower leg injury,” the TV news report said. “The firefighter was airlifted to St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula and is reported to be in stable condition.” The firefighter’s name was not released.
Infrared Aerial Photos Show Beeskove Fire Has Grown
An early-morning infrared flight over the Beeskove Fire outside Missoula showed 211 acres on fire. Infrared technicians estimated that the fire had grown 29 acres in the last 24-hour period.
In Lewis and Clark County, Sheriff Leo Dutton announced that “the small community of Nelson and other residences in the Beaver Creek area have been ordered to evacuate due to this fire.” He said law enforcement officers had visited 12 homes to issue the warning.
The fire at Owl Gulch, about a mile south of Nelson, has displayed only minimal to moderate fire activity, burning in grass and brush, Kathy Bushnell with the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest told the Independent Record. One hotshot crew was assigned to the fire.
Devil's Tower, burning about a mile and a half southwest of Nelson, was much more active, Bushnell added. “The fire is burning in timber and firefighters on scene reported seeing some trees torching and crowning. Two air tankers and more than 20 firefighters were on the fire Tuesday evening,” she said.
The U.S. Forest Service cited “public safety purposes during fire suppression work” in announcing the temporary closing of portions of the Helmville-Gould Trail.
Online Resources Are Available
Although Montana is sparsely populated with slightly more than one million residents, 28% percent of homes in the state are “at high or extreme risk of wildfire damage,” according to the Insurance Information Institute.
As a result, NBC Montana aired a list of online resources where state residents and anyone else can get information about wildfires and ways to protect their families, homes and other property:
- Ready.gov has tips for what to do before, during and after a wildfire hits your area.
- InciWeb - Incident Information System provides information about any wildfire in the U.S. and where fires are spreading, the cause, and the outlooks on the blaze. The site also posts public service announcements (PSAs) and evacuation notices.
- The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation has thorough information on how to protect your home from wildfires. There are tips on how to prevent sparking a blaze as well.
- To report suspicious or dangerous activity in our forests, the U.S. Forest Service has several steps to follow and other fire-related information, so you can observe, record and report.
- The National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service has a map that shows smoke plumes from wildfires across the U.S.
- To see how that smoke is affecting air quality, Air Now has tools to instantly track conditions.