HAMILTON — Ravalli County authorities are reminding people to sign up for the county's emergency notification system with the arrival of fire season. That could include not only fire updates but orders to evacuate.
Anyone who's lived in the Bitterroot Valley for any time at all has a story about sudden fires blazing down off the Bitterroot Front, or even the Sapphire Mountains. These monsters like the 2016 Roaring Lion Fire can give people precious little time to respond. That's why the county has implemented several ways to make emergency alerts.
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"We really use these systems for any type of emergency or incident, but particularly going into fire season where we may have a, you know a fire come up such as Roaring Lion in the past, or something with not a lot of time," explained Ravalli County Emergency Management Director Erik Hoover.
Hoover says the goal is to reach Bitterrooters who are on the move, or who might not even have a landline phone nowadays.
"We have our Sheriff's Office app which has a pretty good following in the community as well as our Hyper Reach emergency notification system. Those can go to your mobile devices, email, text message, or phones. And it's really a great way for us to reach out to folks in our community to give them the most critical information about fires or other incidents."
With Hyper-Reach you can actually pick your notification. And you don't have to live full time in the valley. Part-time residents or property owners can keep track of conditions too. As long as you have a Ravalli County address for the system.
"Yeah, those follow your phone number or device and so we actually have a pretty big following of folks that either have ties to the community or might just be residents part of the year. Or maybe own properties here and come up here to vacation."
Hoover noted these systems are set up to respect the privacy of people's data. "It's actually a very secure system. It's set up in a way where we can't mine information. That was never the intention. It's really to be able to connect with folks in our community with critical information."
In addition to Hyper-Reach, Ravalli County also has a system where it can text critical information to people who are just driving through the valley during an emergency. Landline phones are included in emergency alerts too.
You can sign up for Hyper-Reach, and get more information on the Ravalli County website.