It takes a village to fight a Montana wildfire - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

It takes a village to fight a Montana wildfire

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To effectively run an Incident Command Post just outside the scene of a large wildfire, it has to be set up like a small city.

“You can look at ICP as walking downtown Philipsburg, for instance, instead of a business you’ve got a group at does a specific thing such as finance. We’ve got a Main Street, we even have a town square which is where we do our briefings right here,” said Deputy Incident Commander Roger Staats.

Planning Section Chief Reggie Day added, “you’ve internet, you’ve got cell phone service, you’ve got the power you need. We’ve got heat for when it’s cold in the morning, we’ve got air conditioners when it's 90 degrees to 100 degrees in the tents.”

These services are necessary for more than 500 people needed to fight the more than 13,000 acre Meyers fire located about 25 miles southwest of Philipsburg. It’s all about making sure the firefighters can better do their job.

“Just try to make it as comfortable as you can, because with folks out there working as hard as they’re working, you know, it’s nice to come back to something that’s at least comfortable so they can  get a good night’s rest, they’re clean, well fed, so they can hit the ground running in the morning,” Day said.

This includes medical services for serious or mundane injuries.

“We also do a lot of blister care for the firefighters, we get them ready so they can go out on the line in the morning, and then in the afternoon they come in and we patch them up as best we can,” said medic Peggy Miller.

For the next two to three weeks, this is how the crews are living.

“This is home right here, I’ve got a spot that’s flat, nice view, you have the stream down there, the camp’s down there, so this is my commute every day to the office. I love it,” Bureau of Land Management firefighter Edward Nelson said.

It’s important these firefighters are prepared to do their job.

“There’s a number of structures through here, mostly private owned, there’s also some historical structures on the east side over here, so what we’d like to do is not impact this area with fire, keep it out of here so if possible if the fire does move to the west we can just herd it around,” Staats said.

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