According to the Bureau of Land Management Montana/Dakotas, in various locations throughout the country, a total of more than 130 active fires are torching nearly 2 million acres even as you read this article.
Unfortunately, you will not be reading about the fires in many other publications because there seems to be some sort of media moratorium on covering the truth about the devastating fires, which have set large swatches of the American West (including California, Oregon and Washington) ablaze.
The Montana/Dakotas manages around 8.3 million acres of federal lands and 47.2 million acres of federal mineral estates in the states of Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota, and many of their forests are literally in flames.
When Dennis Michael Lynch did his latest Walk & Talk, on Sep. 11, something stood out to me as I watched his report on Facebook Live. Within the stream of comments rushing past during his talk, there were several “cries for help” regarding the massive, destructive fires that are currently burning in Western Montana.
Dennis actually wrote about these fires a little more than a week ago, but it obviously bears repeating.
According to Dennis, this national disaster is getting little to no national media coverage. “Keep in mind, I live the news 7-days per week, and I am surrounded by 19 monitor feeds. I look at no less than 1,500 stories each day from 100 or more news sources. Never once have I seen the story of ‘Montana burning’ in a news feed. Had it not been for a DML reader who urged me to bring some attention to the story, I would have never known. That’s how under reported this event is,” he wrote.
In the video below, you can see a comprehensive report on the state of the fires as of Sep. 8.
Montana’s Governor Steve Bullock officially declared a state of emergency on July 23, and since then, “the Lolo fire has been burning with only 31% of it being contained,” according to the report, which went on to note, “Glacier National park lost one of its most treasured and historic staples today as of 6:00 pm., 530 structures have been burned to the ground along with countless people and livestock being evacuated.”
So far, the Lolo Peak Fire has killed two people and burned at least 40,000 acres. According to local station KTVQ, “Four thousand firefighters, 125 aircraft and 350 Montana National Guard troops battled 40 wildfires this summer that scorched 655,171 acres with 23 still actively consuming land statewide.”
The Facebook post went on to ask for help from the American public, stating, “This is by far the worst disaster Montana has battled, so maybe you can help change that. Just by simply sharing this you can help, putting it in front of the eyes of people who can help. Social media is a powerful tool, let’s use it.”
There are, of course, other ways to help people in Montana deal with this crisis, and the following links can direct you to the right place:
- The Missoula United Way has set up a fund to aid those affected by the Rice Ridge Fire near Seeley Lake, and a fund for evacuees from the Lolo Peak Fire. You can contact the Missoula United Way at 406-549-6104.
- The 406 Family Aid Foundation was formed “To aid persons and their families in Western Montana who are experiencing financial hardship caused by unforeseen illness, complications of a previous illness, loss in a family or natural disaster.” They’re accepting donations for Lolo Peak Fire evacuees at www.406familyaidfoundation.org.
- Garfield County Fire Foundation Relief Fund has been set up to help victims of the Lodgepole Complex, Montana’s largest fire this year, which burned nearly over 270,000 acres in Eastern Montana. You can donate online at https://fundly.com/garfield-county-fire-foundation. Checks can be made to Garfield County Fire Foundation c/o Garfield County Bank PO Box 6, Jordan, MT 59337 (406-557-2201) or send to Circle c/o Redwater Valley Bank, PO Box 60, Circle, MT 59215 (406-485-4782).
- The American Red Cross of Montana has opened 10 shelters for fire evacuees in Montana this year, including for Sunrise Fire evacuees near Superior, and evacuees from Seeley Lake. You can donate online at http://www.redcross.org/local/montana or call 800-272-6668
- These following are just some awesome people trying to help out and giving 100% of their profits to the fire efforts: Montana Fire Relief Shirts and Montana Strong engraved bracelets.
The U.S. National Weather Service in Glasgow, Montana, reported that their current Drought Monitor shows conditions worsening through Montana, which is making the fires spread. So, if you can do nothing else, I suggest you pray for the people of Montana.
According to one of the people who commented on DML’s Walk & Talk post, an ER nurse who used to live in NE Oregon and work for the USFS on trail crew and fire, one of the biggest concerns is air quality. “Many structures, homes, and thousands of acres of forest land have burnt and are currently burning,” she told me. “The air quality is very poor. Many people in communities downwind throughout the NW are suffering from respiratory issues and allergies due to the heavy smoke in the air, for several weeks now.”
People in this area are hoping to make President Trump aware that they need help. People’s lives and our country’s precious forests are at risk, she warned, acknowledging that there are people working round the clock to help those in danger. However, more desperately needs to be done.