Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Montana Fire Season, from quiet to busy in one week!

Fire at Holter Lake 9/9/09

Is that tiny bucket of water really going to do much good?! 9/9/09

The big news around here is about fires. We had been enjoying a very quiet fire season this year, but not anymore! Wednesday of last week a large fire broke out near one of our most popular lakes. Holter Lake, formed by a dam on the Missouri River, is a sportsman's paradise. The lake is usually dotted with boats of all types and the surrounding land is dotted with many campgrounds and private cabins. On nice weekends, folks flock to the lake from Great Falls (to the north) and Helena (south of the lake) to fish, hunt, boat, or camp. During the week, especially now that school is in session and summer is unofficially over, there aren't many people playing in the area. That was a good thing last week. The fire broke out in or near a campground in the late morning and burned out quite a few camper-trailers before taking off into the wooded hills. The pine beetle had killed enough of the trees to allow the fire to take a quick jump in size... 2400 acres in only one day! The good news? The fire was on the 'far side' of the lake, where there are fewer cabins. The state had fire crews in place quickly, but the flames were too high and fast for men on the ground. By Wednesday evening the fire was being fought with chemical drops from airplanes and water drops from helicopters. My photos were taken Wednesday evening as I was driving home to Helena. **For you locals out there... my vantage point was the Augusta Exit. Now, five days later, there is hardly any smoke rising from the valley and roads into the area are reopened. I hope it is all under control BECAUSE... only a relatively few miles to the south:

Helena North Hills Fire 9/14/09

....Today, Monday, a fire broke out in the North Hills of the Helena Valley. This is a much more populated area, and the smoke plume could be seen clearly throughout the valley. I figure my house is, as the crow flies, about five or six miles from this fire. I can smell the smoke drifting into my windows as I am typing. I don't know anything about this fire yet... like how it started, or where EXACTLY it is, but looking out the window and seeing the smoke is a bit unsettling. As I watched from my driveway (where the photo was taken) I could see the setting sun reflecting off of two firefighter planes. I am sure this fire will be attacked from all sides and put out quickly. Our wildfire crews are awesome, and with many houses in danger they won't be getting much sleep until the entire thing is contained and totally out.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature is not planning to help out any time soon. The afternoon temperatures are supposed to be in the mid to high 80's, lows in the 50's, and no rain.

1 comment:

Rock Chef said...

We had what the local press called "raging bush fires" near where I live a couple of weeks ago - over about half an acre from what I can see. Took over a week to put it out completely...

I can't imagine having this as a regular threat - I guess it is just part of life for you, though.

Keep safe!