The Latest: Montana goes into fire season with $4M reserves
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Latest on Montana’s wildfire season (all times local):
Montana officials say there is just $4 million in a firefighting reserve fund with another above average fire season forecast for this year.
Department of Natural Resources and Conservation spokesman John Grassy said Thursday that $40 million was transferred into the state fire suppression fund on June 1.
But about $36 million has already been transferred out to pay for last year’s fire season, which was the largest in the state’s history and has cost the state $67 million so far.
Grassy says there may be additional costs incurred from last year, but the $4 million left is good through the end of the month.
Gov. Steve Bullock heard a briefing from state, local, tribal and federal officials on their readiness for the fire season.
Mike DeGrosky of the DNRC Fire and Aviation Bureau says he is planning on another bad season that is expected to start late but last well into the fall.
Montana is still recovering from floods caused by one of the snowiest winters on record, yet the state is still expected to have an above average wildfire season.
State officials and the National Guard are holding a briefing Thursday to assess Montana’s readiness after last year’s fires exhausted the state’s firefighting cash reserves.
Just 10 percent of Montana’s land is considered abnormally dry as of this week, but those conditions are expected to change by next month as the warm temperatures quickly melt the deep mountain snowpack.
The National Interagency Fire Center says May temperatures were 5 degrees above average and forecasts that the threat for significant wildland fires will be above normal in northern and western Montana in July.
By August and September, that threat will extend to south central Montana.