Missoula County issues emergency declaration as wildfire danger rises

Posted at 11:05 AM, Aug 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-01 13:13:19-04
MISSOULA – Western Montana is continuing to dry out prompting the Missoula County Commission to issue an early emergency declaration because of the growing fire threat.

Dry thunderstorms in southwest Montana increase fire dangers in the area. Due to this — and other conditions — the Missoula County commissioners worked on some preventive measures in case wildfires start and get out of hand.

The Missoula County Commissioners have signed an emergency proclamation as a precaution to the high fire danger in the area for the upcoming weeks.

“So this is really a preemptive measure that we take every fire season and even though there are fires burning in Missoula County — like up the Rattlesnake,” Missoula County Commissioner Dave Strohmaier said.

“Even had there not been, we’ve reached the point in the fire season where we need to declare this emergency proclamation,” he added. 

Approving the proclamation gives emergency responders the ability to plan with other emergency organizations for if a wildfire were to get out of hand.

“It’s a way to allow our office not only to engage some of our partners in that planning process, but it’s also a way for the commissioners to delegate some of their authorities to local incident commanders should need arise in an emergency situation,” Missoula Office of Emergency Management Director Adriane Beck said.

“It absolutely is leaving the expert decisions to the experts and it’s avoiding your three county commissioners needing to go up to Seeley Lake or somewhere in person initiate an evacuation,” Strohmaier added.

The only fire burning in Missoula County as of Wednesday was the Beeskove fire in the Rattlesnake National Wilderness Area.