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Officials brace for wildfire season on Blackfeet Reservation

Blackfeet Nation Fire Danger Sign
Posted at 9:19 AM, May 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-19 11:26:55-04

BROWNING - Fire management officials expect an intense wildfire season as Montana battles drought and high winds create the perfect climate for fires to get out of control.

“Even though they’re predictable and we know they’re coming, we still can’t plan for them. You know because it just takes one spark,” noted Blackfeet Fire Management Officer Carter Gallineaux.

But Gallineaux says this year might just be the most intense yet," our fires are starting a lot sooner, our fires are growing a lot larger, and our resources are stretched a lot more thin,” Gallineaux said.

The wildfire season has already begun in parts of Montana, and experts are predicting that this is only the beginning.

“I do expect this season to be more extreme than seasons past,” Gallineaux told MTN News. “And I was just looking at the numbers and this time last year we were at 24 fires and we’re already at 39.”

A big problem this year happens to be the lack of water. While local ranchers in the area keep stored water for fire emergencies, even they might struggle to keep some on hand.

“A lot of the water resources that we depend on usually hold up till mid-June, early-July, but we’re already seeing those resources drying up and getting to the point where we can’t even get water out of them,” Gallineaux explained.

Despite the dry climate, there are many things homeowners and ranchers can do to protect their properties from potential fires.

“Number one rule is defensible space. Keep wood piles at least five feet from the house, make your defensible space anywhere from 30 feet to 100 feet depending on how big your property is and keep the grass short and watered,” advised Gallineaux.

Remaining fire aware is the best way to take care as Montana’s fire danger at an all-time high.