Stage 2 fire restrictions posted in Bitterroot

Stage 2 fire restrictions posted in Bitterroot

Source: NBC Montana
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Kevin Maki

HAMILTON, Mont. – The Stage 2 fire restrictions are certainly a turning point for the summer season in Montana.

Signs outlining the rules are going up all over.  Wednesday morning a fire crew from Maine was at Lake Como posting Stage 2 signs so the public is aware of the restrictions that go into effect at midnight on Thursday.

“We have three forest rangers and 17 civilian firefighters,” said Maine forest ranger Brian Getchell.

Getchell and his crew also visited campers and boaters in the region’s most popular recreation site. Many people are already aware of the restrictions. The fire crew talked to one man who certainly knows how serious the fire danger is. He said the house his parents used to own burned in the Roaring Lion Fire last summer.

The visit to Como is one of many assignments the 20 person Type 2 initial attack team has had during their stay in Montana.

The firefighters have already been on three fires, all of them lightning-caused.

“Our first attack was on the Sleeping Child Fire,” said Maine forest ranger Mike Daigle.”That was about 3/4 of an acre.

He said every lightning strike “puts a firefighter a little on edge.”

The crew was excited to come to Montana. Both Daigle and Getchell said the scenery is beautiful. They are impressed with the high mountains.

The men compared how fighting fire in Maine is different from Montana.

Getchell lives at sea level in Maine.

“Hiking up to the fires is different than in Maine,” he said. “This is a lot steeper country, but our firefighters are very skilled and they adapt well.”

But he said that elevation change has been a challenge.

A major difference said the men is the availability of water.

In Maine, said Daigle, firefighters have no trouble finding water to fight fire.

Here in Montana, he said, “it’s a lot of hand tools with no water source and aircraft that help suppress the fires. “So it sharpens our skills with those Type 1 and Type 2 incidents,” he said.

He said they will be able to bring those skills back to Maine.

The Maine firefighters have a few more days working through the Darby Sula Ranger District. As these Stage 2 fire conditions go into effect and hot dry conditions continue it’s likely the tight-knit team will be going on more fires in the Bitterroot National Forest.