Greg Poncin

Goat Creek and Sliderock fires, July 23, 2017.

Even as floodwaters submerge swaths of western Montana, fire scientists and land managers are thinking a season ahead to when fires will bloom on the landscape.

They’re trying to educate the public about a paradoxical concept: Putting fire back on the landscape to avoid smokey summers like last year.

Panelists at a forum called "How do we live with fire?" at the University of Montana, October 24 in Missoula.
Josh Burnham

Across the state this summer, tens of thousands of Montanans had to face the challenge of living with big wildfires. Some people lost their homes, two firefighters lost their lives, and businesses, schools and individuals were impacted, in ways ranging from the mildly inconvenient to the life-changing.

"It's likely that we'll be experiencing more years like 2017 in the future," says Fire Ecologist Phil Higuera.

Jackie Stermitz looks over the remains of her Florence area home, which burned in the Lolo Peak Fire on August 17, 2017.
Mike Albans

"I don’t know where it was, but the other day I saw one of my mother’s silver cups," says Jackie Stermitz.

"I see a cup over there! Ohhh – I’d almost rather not see this stuff, to be honest, because it’s all broken up."

Jackie Stermitz spent seven years in her home that was built into the hillside in the upper reaches of the Macintosh Manor subdivision near Florence. On August 17, the raging Lolo Peak fire reduced it and a neighbor’s home to rubble.

Greg Poncin is Incident Commander on the Lolo Peak Fire.
Edward O'Brien

On Monday Lolo Peak Fire managers said their burnout operations on the Lolo Peak Fire "probably" led to the destruction of two homes and several outbuildings. Tuesday, they took a more circumspect approach.

Greg Poncin is Incident Commander on the Lolo Peak Fire. MTPR's Edward O'Brien spoke to Poncin Tuesday at his fire camp outside of Florence.

Montana Wildfire Roundup For September 1, 2016

Sep 1, 2016
The sunrise over the Copper King Fire's Incident Command Post on September 1, 2016
Shawn Ostberg/Inciweb

The latest news on wildfires around western Montana.