MTPR

FireSafe Flathead

Tony Harwood lectures on Native American uses and approach to wildland fire at the first Wildland Fire in Western Montana lecture event in Kalispell, MT February 23, 2018.
Nicky Ouellet

Even with two feet of snow on the ground, homeowners and fire managers in the Flathead Valley are thinking about fire season. FireSafe Flathead kicked off a four-part lecture series about wildland fire in western Montana at Flathead Valley Community College Thursday night. MTPR's Nicky Ouellet brings us the highlights.

Ali Ulwelling from the Montana DNRC guides Whitefish-area homeowners through the process of assessing a home for fire preparedness.
Nicky Ouellet

At sunset, the forest west of Whitefish is more golden than green, the needles of western larches catching the last rays of sunlight. The glowing trees look like they’re on fire. Even now, with snow on the forecast, folks who live deep in this forest, like Ben Duvall, are still thinking about wildfire.

Duvall is the fire chief for Big Mountain Fire and Rescue, and last week, he hosted two-dozen neighbors, kids and dogs to talk about creating a fire adapted community; basically, making their neighborhood ready to withstand fire moving through it without much help from firefighters.

The Roaring Lion Fire near Hamilton on August 1, 2016
Inciweb

For Flathead Valley resident Charlotte Chrisman, wildfire on her private land is not a question of if, but when.

"It's like, you know, have you hit a deer? Well not yet," Chrisman says.

A firefighter on the Bierny Creek Fire near Lakeside, MT.
Patrick Record/Inciweb

Larry Anderson arrived early for a meeting last Friday morning at the Flathead National Forest supervisor’s office in Kalispell. It was unseasonably sunny and warm outside, but he’d spend the next three hours listening to presentations in a conference room because of something that happened last summer.

Last year's Copper King fire burned more than 27,000 acres outside Thompson Falls
Inciweb

Fire season is, for many people, a single season. But a team of resource managers and homeowners in the Flathead Valley is trying to change that.

FireSafe Flathead is a group of firefighters, emergency planners, state and federal resource managers, and homeowner association members who meet monthly to plan a more proactive, community-based response to the threat of wildfire.