Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Wildfires


In my last posting I sounded like a restaurant critic (which I am not) and today I may sound like a Park Ranger (which I also am not). If you are in our beautiful area right now, you need do nothing but look out he window to know that there is a forest fire burning somewhere nearby.

Unfortunately, it does not mater where in the valley you are because we have a number of fires burning in different areas. Today I learned of a valuable online resource, which I was not aware of; Inciweb.org posts information on incidents nation-wide. Our family lives in the "West Valley" area and we are concerned about a fire that is raging to the north of us (Tally Lake area). The Brush Creek Fire, located about 29 air miles west of Whitefish, MT, is now estimated at over 4,300 acres.

The wind shifted overnight and thick smoke has come crawling down our draw and it is actually making it difficult to breathe and see. There is a mountain range in front of our home that is almost completely invisible this morning. According to Inciweb.com, there are 114,264 acres burning in Montana right this very minute in 12 "active incidents".

Last Saturday during a visit to Glacier National Park, we drove by the Skyland fire raging on he east side of U.S. 2, which has been closed a couple of times since then. Highway 2 is open to 2 way unescorted traffic with a speed restriction in the area of the fire. Travelers also can expect short stoppages on Marias Pass while helicopters are flying over the highway when dipping from a water tank.

One of the (few) downsides to living in such a beautiful place as NW Montana is the annual threat of wildfires. Unfortunately, they are inevitable and it can be argued that they are beneficial to balancing the ecosystem, but it is one of those things where the theory of any benefit is outweighed by the proximity of he fire.

There is no need to panic or even change your travel plans if you are planing to come to this area for a visit. Wildfires happen and are part of life here in Montana. Most important is the fact that the best firefighters in America are battling these blazes and we are in good hands. A mention of these brave men and women in your prayers just might be the thing that tips the scales a little quicker.

Oh and BTW, there's a campfire ban in effect so if you are planning to camp at one of the many campsites here, check with the locals to see what restrictions are in place.

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