FINLEY POINT — Volunteer firefighters from the Finley Point Yellow Bay Fire Department were some of the first on scene the night of July 31 when the Boulder 2700 fire roared out of control.
The firefighters who helped save their neighbor's homes are now asking for community support as they start a fundraiser to update severely outdated equipment.
“Our equipment needs to be updated; we do have some stuff that is over 20 years old,” Finley Point Yellow Bay Fire Chief Elect John McCullough tells MTN News.
McCullough is asking for community support to update firefighter safety equipment and technology for when disaster strikes again.
“We receive tax funds from our county, and they support our operations of the department, they pay our bills and they do afford us some equipment, rarely are we able to upgrade or update some of our outdated things without the support of our community donors,” said McCullough.
McCullough and his firefighters were first on the scene when the wind-driven fire exploded out of control the night of July 31.
He said some volunteer firefighters worked more than 48 hours straight to help save neighbor's homes.
“There was no backup, there was no I’m going to go take a nap, there was no break, it was exhausting, I’ll tell ya it was truly exhausting, and it wiped a lot of us out for the following week just to recover from sleep and fatigue,” said McCullough.
Susan Carstensen was evacuated from her home just north of Finley Point off Highway 35 as the fire came dangerously close.
“I think it’s about a quarter of a mile, somebody else measured and said 200 meters,” said Carstensen.
She said giving back to the firefighters who helped save her family home is the least she can do.
“If you’re going to that job the last thing you should worry about is are your tools up to date, are your tools sufficient, is there a hole in your boot or not, I’m incredibly thankful for them, all the people that came and worked on the fire from around, the folks in Polson who put people up, we all need to help each other,” said Carstensen.
McCullough said he and his fellow firefighter put their day jobs on hold to fight the Boulder 2700 fire. The support they’ve received from their neighbors has proven that sacrifice was worth it.
“Some of the support and just the fist-pumps or the thumbs up or thank you's, that goes a long ways, and a thank you goes so far when you’re working with probably any organization but especially those of us that give up our daily lives to come do this,” said McCullough.
Donations can be made to the firefighter’s Venmo App at @MontecahtoFire or by mail to the Finley Point Yellow Bay Fire Department at 35408 MT HWY 35 Polson MT 59860.