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Residents near McClusky Fire praise firefighters' work

Fire east of Butte burning more than 2,900 acres
Posted at 2:55 PM, Sep 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-07 20:32:25-04

WHITEHALL - Crews and residents in the area of the McClusky Fire burning east of Butte had some hairy moments earlier this week when high winds quickly expanded the wildfire.

“Our crews and our engines did a great job and we really wouldn’t have survived out here without them,” said fire crew commander Monica Thomas.

Some residents living in this rural area are grateful to the crews for saving their homes during this difficult time.

“It was definitely very, very scary, especially when you can hear all the roar and see all the big flames, but like I said they did an amazing job of saving all the property,” said local resident Sandra Dalke.

The fire started from a lightning strike on Aug. 16 and has since grown to more than 2900 acres. Because there’s a large risk to firefighters due to falling trees, crews are taking an indirect approach to fighting the fire and hope anticipated cooler weather will help put it out.

“People can expect to see smoke and maybe movement on days until we get that solid snow, rain event going into the fall; so this is maybe something that people will see smoke for the next two months,” said incident commander Mike King.

The fire crews have created a defensive zone in this area well ahead of the fire which is burning back that way. They’ve intentionally burnt the vegetation on the ground so the fire has no fuel and cut the lower limbs of trees known as ladder fuels, which will prevent the fire from climbing up the trees and getting into the crowns.

“Quite a bit of rain in the forecast which is very good for us; it gives us the upper hand on things,” said Thomas.

As of Saturday morning, the McClusky Fire was holding at 2,932 acres.