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Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services
PD

A crowd of more than 50 healthcare workers, patients, and advocates chanted outside the state capitol Tuesday afternoon protesting the Montana health department’s plan to reduce funding for Medicaid services.

They came for their first opportunity to testify before a legislative committee that’s also questioning the priorities of Governor Steve Bullock’s administration as it trims the state budget in the face of a continuing state revenue shortfall.

This was the second driest summer on record in Montana, but meteorologists say rain is finally on the way. 

Since July, the state has seen towns threatened by wildfires and choked with smoke, crops getting killed by drought and grass fires destroying rangeland. 

But a cold and rainy system entering Montana Thursday could put at least a temporary end to the suffering.

Montana Wildfire Roundup For September 12, 2017

Sep 12, 2017
The Strawberry Creek fire seen from a helicopter, September 11, 2017.
Inciweb

Rain and cooler temperatures forecast for later this week may not end the fire season, but a meteorologist says "it will put a dent in it." The cool, wet weather system will bring welcome relief to firefighters, those whose property has been threatened and communities that have dealt with smoke-filled air for nearly two months. Until then, keep your HEPA filters running, and tune in here for your daily wildfire updates.

Frenchtown kindergarten teacher Justine Luebke shows off a brand new HEPA air filtration unit that will help purify the air in her classroom.
Nora Saks

Now that fire season has extended into the school year, many western Montana schools have been keeping kids inside because of heavy smoke. But that doesn’t mean they’re breathing clean air. Some community partnerships are springing up to try to get air filters into more classrooms.

The Adair Peak Fire in Glacier National Park Sunday
InciWeb

Updated 6:15 p.m.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved disaster assistance for two more wildfires in northwestern Montana.

FEMA funding is now available to pay 75 percent of the state's eligible firefighting costs for the Moose Peak and Highway 200 Complex fires in Lincoln and Sanders Counties. Those fires are threatening 925 homes and businesses in and around Plains, and 45 homes and businesses southeast of Libby. The state's applications, filed yesterday, said the fires are also threatening power and telephone transmission lines, cellphone towers, a gas pipeline, highway bridges and watersheds.

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