We are facing a very challenging and unprecedented fire season in Montana and throughout the West. Lisa and my thoughts and prayers are with our neighbors whose homes and businesses are being affected, and with the brave men and women who are doing an incredible job protecting Montanans and fighting these fires.
The reality is Montana is in a severe drought and the conditions are ripe for continued severe fires throughout September. Local, state, and federal partners are working together to ensure we are and will continue to use every available resource to fight these fires.
Last week, I declared a statewide fire disaster here in Montana. In June, July, and August, I also declared statewide fire and drought emergencies to provide the resources needed for Montana, and the brave men and women on the ground, to fight these fires.
My latest executive order allows me to continue to mobilize Montana National Guard and additional state resources to help fight these fires and meet any contingencies or other needs as they arise. The state of Montana remains in regular communication with officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regarding possible assistance that can support state and local firefighting costs of businesses and individuals impacted by fires.
I have already requested and received two Fire Assistance Management Grants from FEMA to support state and local fire costs. I am making certain adequate resources are available to respond to fire and drought-related impacts across the state and will continue to pursue all available state and federal resources to support ongoing wildfire suppression and recovery needs.
I take these fires very seriously and am in constant communication with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation and the Montana Disaster and Emergency Services at the Department of Military Affairs about the developments across Montana.
Montana National Guard members are currently deployed and more than 125 aircraft have already been assigned to these fires. More than 4,000 firefighters and coordinating staff have been assigned to fight the fires currently burning in Montana, and their efforts are further bolstered by thousands more local volunteer firefighters.
This has been a long and incredibly difficult fire season and conditions this week will continue to be challenging. Everyone – residents, visitors, volunteers – must continue to stay safe, stay informed, and continue to support our firefighters, our communities, and businesses impacted by fires.
Thank you for your continued strength and vigilance during this time.