Montana Ag Network: Ranchers brace for extreme fire conditions

Posted at 8:32 AM, Aug 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-09 10:32:32-04

BIG SANDY- Expected record-breaking temperatures and extremely dry air are leading us toward critical fire danger levels by the weekend.

Ranchers are now taking precautions before any major wildfires ignite in Montana.

IX Ranch Vice President Richard Roth is all too familiar with the danger that wildfires can pose as he was one of the many affected by last year’s East Fork fire.

The 2017 lightning-ignited fire started as just a small spark before quickly burning more than 21,000 acres until it was finally extinguished several days later.

Roth said prevention and preparedness is key.

“We go through a fire training program… and show [employees] the basics on how to fight fire and where to be,” he said. “We always tell them to have some clothes ready and to be ready to change from doing ranch work to go do fire work.”

Roth also has his own firefighting units that are full of water and ready to go at a moment’s notice. When a fire does ignite in the Big Sandy area, where IX Ranch is located, a siren goes off in town and residents can hear the alarm for miles.

When wildfires do break in the area, neighbors are willing to drop everything and protect their way of life. Roth has helped on numerous fires in the past few years and appreciates the surrounding community for their willingness to help.

“It’s an amazing thing in these small communities, volunteer fires, neighbors, they all come together in these things,” he said.

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