BILLINGS, Mont. – During Montana’s hot, dry summer months, the danger of fire increases, and being prepared is the best way to launch the plan of attack.
Fires threaten the Treasure State year-round, and the summer months are expected to have above-average temperatures. I spoke with Chris Barth, a fire mitigation specialist at the Billings Office of Land Management and he told me how he and his team are preparing for the shootout.
Barth says fast response times are extremely helpful in containing wildfires.
The organization has another trick up its sleeve this year…additional manpower from new recruits.
This allows them to not only secure the Billings area, but also help fight fires across the state.
“We have a number of firefighters from this station, we can go down to the southwest and help them because it’s really there, it’s early for their fire season, but they’re seeing fire activity in the southwest,” Barth said. “So we respond and help others, and then when we have needs in the northern Rockies like we did last year, we’ve seen firefighters come in from other places across the country to help bolster the effect.”
Right now, the dry conditions and high winds in our state are of great concern…not for naturally occurring fires, but for accidental fires, which quickly spread out of control in these conditions.
“If we have them during these red flag days or other days where we have dry conditions, strong winds, we could see a lot of big fires developing. So we asked people to be extra careful, does that mean they do maintenance on their property, they use farm equipment, their recreational vehicles, whatever it is, be extra careful for make sure everything is in very good condition. form and they are not prone to starting new fires,” Barth added.
Barth also said that to be successful in protecting our lands, the Bureau of Land Management works closely with the public, to disseminate information quickly.
Article published on May 6, 2022