(GREAT FALLS) Many people have asked how they can help the firefighting efforts across Montana, or donate to help the people affected by the fires.
More than 4,000 firefighters have been involved in the battle against the fires this season; two of them lost their lives fighting fires in western Montana.
There are several ways that people can help.
The Montana chapter of the American Red Cross can be reached at 1-800-272-6668, or online by clicking here. You can also mail donations to the American Red Cross of Montana, 1300 28th Street South (3rd Floor), Great Falls, MT 59405.
Other ways that you can help:
Diane Wright, executive director of the Montana chapter of the American Red Cross, wants people to know how to specifically donate money to the State's wildfire relief effort, and NOT to the general disaster fund, which could put their money toward Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.
Wright says that best way to donate to the Montana Red Cross wildfire relief effort is by sending a check to the Great Falls headquarters, and writing "Montana Wildfires" in the memo line.
If people want to donate online...they must first select the local chapter that they want their money to go to, and then very shortly after call the Great Falls office to verbally request that their donation goes to Montana wildfire relief efforts.
Wright said, “If you’d like for your money to stay here in Montana then you can select the option of a local chapter, and that money will stay here in Montana. If you want your money to be specifically used for Montana wildfires then we ask that you just call us and let us know, or if you’re sending in a check to our Great Falls location office, then you just write on your memo line 'Montana wildfire.'”
You can also contact your nearest municipal or volunteer fire department, as they are best able to determine what resources are needed in your area.
NOTE: Some people have expressed concern about donating to the American Red Cross, and some have trotted out bogus or inaccurate examples of how the organization spends the money that it receives.
MONEY magazine advises giving to charities that spend no more than 20% of their revenue on overhead costs, which can be easily found on Charity Navigator. In the case of the American Red Cross, it spent 10.4% of its revenue on administrative costs and fundraising efforts in the fiscal year ending in June 2015, per Charity Navigator.
Some people worry that money donated to the Red Cross for fire relief will be used for other disasters, such as Hurricane Harvey. The American Red Cross says that they "honor donor intent, and if a donor designates their donation for a particular disaster, it goes to that disaster."