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Billings sees lull in fire season, but firefighters are still at work

Posted at 6:25 PM, Aug 28, 2018
and last updated 2019-07-17 14:51:50-04


BILLINGS- A recent dip in hot temperatures and record snowpack this year has helped the fire season in southeastern Montana.

Bureau of Land Management spokesperson Al Nash said Tuesday Billings is experiencing a lull with less damaging or devastating wildfires as the western part of the state.

Nash added that doesn’t mean firefighters aren’t working.

“We may not have been very active here locally, but there’s been a great demand for firefighters and firefighting resources,” said Nash.

In most areas of the country, Nash said fire managers start to refer to a “fire year” instead of a “fire season.” And while that’s true for most of Montana, southern Montana specifically never had enough fuel to reach a critical dry level.

So firefighters stationed in the Billings area have had to travel farther for work.

“We’ve had personnel across western Montana and across the country for months,” said Nash.

In fact, Nash said wildland firefighters have been out working since March. Many are far away from family.

“They’re still out working. We’ve got some more people on their way out to assignments now, people just coming back. A lot of our fire qualified personnel haven’t spent a lot of time home this summer. They have been out doing their jobs. They’ve been needed elsewhere, rather than at home this year,” he said.

But a word of caution: Fire season is still not over. Even though temperatures dipped in recent days, forecaster are predicting warmer weather.

Nash confirmed that Stage 1 fire restrictions remain in place into the upcoming Labor Day weekend.