January 30, 2023

Montana wildfire is the nation’s new best firefighting priority: NPR

Smoke billowed from a regional wildfire on July 14 in Grand Teton National Park south of Yellowstone.

Natalie Behring / Getty Images

Hide title

Change the title

Natalie Behring / Getty Images

Smoke billowed from a regional wildfire on July 14 in Grand Teton National Park south of Yellowstone.

Natalie Behring / Getty Images

As the western part of the country continues to be devastated by fires and droughts, crews from outside Montana are heading there to fight major fires.

Government Greg Gyanport Announced Friday Groups from Utah and California – two states Manipulating their own fire – were coming over the weekend to help the increasingly anxious war eruptions.

Firefighters from Montana’s Department of Natural Resources and Conservation Said Wednesday Covering an area of ​​6,800 acres in the southwestern part of the state, the Alder Creek Fire is the highest fire priority in the country.

U.S. Forest Service spokesman Jason Netlow confirmed the situation The Great Falls Tribune. “This means that when resources are available, Alder Creek Fire will be one of the priorities to be sent to those resources,” Netlow said. “What I do not know is what resources are currently available. A lot of resources are not allocated.”

Although small in size compared to fires spreading elsewhere in the West, the Alder Creek fire, which is only 7%, threatens nearly 240 homes nearby, according to the newspaper.

In the northeastern part of the state, Five firefighters were injured Thursday, when Devils Creek Fire tried to control the 1,300-acre fire.

Meanwhile, the bootleg fire in Oregon – now the largest in the country – continues to grow. Progress was made over the weekend as teams worked to control it More than 40% fire. The wildfire has become huge Creates its own weather.

The growing threats of severe wildfires are far-reaching

Eighty-eight major fires are currently burning in 13 states, all of them in the west, According to the National Interactive Fire Center. So far this year, more than 36,000 wildfires have burned about 2.7 million acres in the United States, a Increase over last year This time.

There may be smoke coming from these fires Seen from space. Return to Earth, cities in Northeastern America – about 3,000 miles away – recently experienced Large particles, Micronutrients can pose a health risk by lurking in the air and entering the lungs and bloodstream.

Climate change is creating big, devastating wildfires Almost This, too, is due to the warmer temperatures and dry plants Increase the length of the fire season. About 40% The United States is moderate to exceptional drought, According to US Drought Surveillance.

Fire seasons last longer and burn larger and hotter, requiring more manpower. Nearly 22,000 people are currently assigned to wildfires, many of them seasonal employees.

Long fire seasons have raised concerns about firefighter burns

Typically, wildfires move from one geographical location to another, starting from the southwest and gradually moving north. This allows the states to work together systematically, sending teams to warmer zones outside the state as needed. But that is no longer the case, says Gary Bilbow, NIFC’s public affairs expert, who works with the Land Management Bureau’s fire prevention program. Instead, the fire spreads across the West at once, thinning out the resources.

Bilbao said he was concerned about this Firefighters are on fire.

“We started the fire operation a month ago, which is something we usually see in August,” he said. “It’s physically demanding work, it puts a lot of stress on them, so there’s a fear of evacuating our firefighters before it’s all over.”

Storms that bring rain and snow usually create an event that ends a season in the fall, providing the crew with the help they need to control the fire. But with more intense fire behaviors, Bilbao said the PLM and IFC are concerned that these fire seasons are becoming an issue throughout the year.

Cape Nevin, a team leader with Montana-based West Yellowstone Smokejumpers, said the early fire season this year could reduce the endurance of a small group that rotates in 16-hour shifts: “So what’s it going to look like after months of doing this to others on the team?”

Emma Bowman of NPR contributed to this story.