Natl. Guard Stationed at Fire Security Checkpoints - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Natl. Guard Stationed at Fire Security Checkpoints

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LOLO CREEK -

Military backup has arrived in Lolo to support fire suppression efforts already on the ground and in the air.

Governor Steve Bullock sent the 110 members of the Montana National Guard on Wednesday and about 60 arrived today, with more to follow tomorrow.

National Guard officials said they've sent guardsmen and women to Montana wildfires nearly every year for the past decade.

Many of the soldiers who arrived in Lolo on Thursday are manning security checkpoints around the fire.

Private Morgan Styles said the troops along Highway 12 are making sure evacuees returning home enter and leave their properties safely, and in a timely fashion.

Styles said, "I know that a lot of people are having trouble with animals, they're having problems with their animals, making sure they're fed and making sure they're okay at night -- I know they're scared for them."

Private Styles' job has brought him close to home this week. He said he's from Lolo, and lives with his girlfriend near town, just off Highway 12.

"It's been kind of hard, knowing some of the people around here, and knowing that they've got to evacuate and that they're scared they're going to lose their homes," Styles said.

Members of the National Guard say the 45 men and women they have on the ground helping man check points help take some of the burden off the local agencies battling the Lolo Complex fires.

Styles said they'll work closely with the Missoula County Sheriff's Office and the Forest Service while in the area.

He added, "They are all here to help us and we're all here to help them."

National Guard officials said soldiers also help dig hand lines or provide logistical support on wildfires across the state.

Sergeant Dallas Obergfell said in the past, he's worked with fire crews in the air.

Obergfell said, "That was a little bit more intense, I got to run… I'm a re-fueler, so I refueled the helicopters."

On the ground, troops will continue to man security checkpoints and keep a watchful eye on the active wildfire.

Styles said, "I'm hoping this fire gets put out and everybody gets home safe."

One National Guard black hawk helicopter arrived in Missoula on Thursday, and another will fly in next week.

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