East flank of Eustis Fire as seen from the east (Photo from Inciweb.org)
Large fires in Montana as of August 17th
A state of emergency is in effect for more than 40 of Montana's 56 counties as dozens wildfires continue to burn.
Governor Steve Bullock made the emergency declaration on Sunday.
As of late last week, about $3 million coming from the state fire fund has gone toward fire suppression efforts; Bullock anticipates that number will increase.
More than $80 million was acquired in the 2013 legislative session.
He says a bad fire season can cost in the tens of millions.
Montana National Guard troops are prepared to assist in combating wildfires if needed. Black Hawk helicopters can carry 600 gallons of water while Chinooks can lift nearly 2,000 gallons.
Bullock said the safety of fire fighters and civilians is of utmost importance.
He added fire resources that are able to respond are reaching their limit.
He remains optimistic in the overall fight against wildfires.
Bullock said, “Our DNRC and other resources are really maxed at their capacity so we want to make sure that as fires start, we can address them when they're small and hopefully take care of them at that point.”
In the emergency declaration, Bullock said, "Montana is facing extreme fire conditions. This declaration will provide additional resources to the brave men and women fighting these fires. As firefighters continue to battle blazes across the state, I encourage Montanans to be aware of fires in their area, obey any evacuation orders that may be issued, and ensure they're not taking actions that might spark new fires."
The declaration allows Bullock to mobilize state resources and the Montana National Guard to combat the fires, as well as expend funds to meet the contingencies and needs that may arise from them.
Bullock made the emergency declaration after receiving a fire briefing from the director of the Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation and the State Forester.