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State watching for summer of "active fire" weather in Montana

Wildfire Firefighter Flames
Posted at 7:07 AM, Jun 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-17 13:45:57-04

HELENA — Fire managers are keeping a close eye on the potential for dry thunderstorms to cause problems as the latest forecasts show a typical season for wildfires in Montana.

The latest forecasts were discussed Tuesday with Gov. Steve Bullock and leaders of agencies like the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC).

The June 1 outlook from the Northern Rockies Coordination Center (NRCC) continues to predict "normal" conditions in early summer, and "above normal" potential for large fires in Western Montana and Northern Idaho in July, August, and September.

The concern is over weather patterns which could create the potential for dry thunderstorms, similar to "active" fire years like 2003, 2007, and 2017.

Meanwhile, fires like the Lump Gulch Fire near Helena have state officials already employing COVID-19 protection measures.

"We actually got to practice what we were talking about, which was each fire engine was its own unit. They didn’t interact with the other fire engines, but everybody was in communication. And we really were protective," DNRC Director John Tubbs observed.

DNRC officials say that if we're more careful with fire this summer that also cuts the COVID-19 health risk.